US, Israel Push to Give UNIFIL Powers to Crack Down on Hezbollah

Israeli Ambassador Accuses UN Of Sticking Its 'Head in the Sand'

Increasingly concerned about the level of influence Hezbollah has across Lebanon, but particularly in southern Lebanon, the US and Israel are pushing for a new UN Security Council resolution that would broaden the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

UNIFIL was created in 1978, to monitor the Israeli pullout after a brief invasion, though its mandate has changed a few times because of off-and-on Israeli invasions since. The new mandate aims to broaden UNIFIL’s mission beyond monitoring, with an eye toward cracking down on Hezbollah.

The current mandate expires at the end of the month, and the US has suggested they wanted an expansion like this, at the behest of Israel. Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon complained that Hezbollah is growing in strength as UNFIL “sticks its head in the sand.”

While the expiring mandate allows UNIFIL to use force to protect civilians, UN officials have regularly noted that they are not authorized to intercept arms shipments or move against Hezbollah without Lebanese government authorization. Since Hezbollah is a major faction in the Lebanese government, such a request has never come.

For the mandate to go after Hezbollah, it would have to oblige UNIFIL to do so against the wishes of the Lebanese government, which probably won’t sit well with Lebanon, and may make getting a new authorization through the Security Council problematic.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.