Diplomats announced that a planned United Nations vote on Wednesday to renew the approval for the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon has been postponed due to a dispute among France, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates over the freedom of movement for the international organization’s forces.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), established in 1978, conducts patrols along the southern border of Lebanon with Israel. Its mandate is renewed annually, and its current mandate is set to expire on Thursday.
The disagreement within the Security Council comes amidst escalating verbal exchanges between Israel and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, backed by Iran. Both sides have threatened each other with dire consequences, while denying their intentions to initiate such actions.
France drafted a resolution for the United Nations Security Council to extend the peacekeeping mission for another year. However, the United States and the United Arab Emirates argue that the resolution weakens certain language related to the ability of UN forces to move freely.
An Emirati diplomat, speaking anonymously, stated, “The freedom of movement for UNIFIL is of utmost importance at a time when tensions in the region are escalating to dangerous levels.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres conveyed in a letter to the Security Council dated August 3rd that UNIFIL still faces constraints on its freedom of movement and has been delayed in accessing important sites.