Renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon for another year, was voted upon unanimously by the UN Security Council on Wednesday.
The provisional agenda was the situation in the Middle East, with the council considering a draft resolution submitted by France to renew the mandate. The unanimous vote in favor of UNSC resolution 2650 followed a month of negotiations.
The US said it welcomed the renewal of UNIFIL’s mandate, and thanked France for its “constructive engagement.”
The force can now operate in Lebanon until Aug. 31, 2023, retaining its core mandate and tasks, as set out most recently in resolution 2591 of Aug. 30, 2021.
The US said it was grateful for the international community’s logistical support to Lebanon and its military.
It said the resolution will ensure that UNIFIL can act independently and conduct “announced and unannounced patrols,” noting an “important reminder that UNIFIL peacekeepers are blocked with increasing frequency from conducting their tasks.”
The US said it was concerned about blocks to UNIFIL access by a group called Green Without Borders, which was “heightening tensions in the area.”
This suggests, the US added, that this “so-called environmental group was acting on Hezbollah’s behalf.”
Washington’s representative said ensuring UNIFIL’s peacekeepers are able to move freely is vital for mitigating risks to UN personnel and assets.
The UAE said it “strongly welcomes the renewal, noting the request for renewal from the government of Lebanon.”
The Emirati representative said UNIFIL had a “vital role” in supporting Lebanon, and thanked countries that have contributed troops and police.
During the protracted negotiations surrounding the UNIFIL mandate, the UAE and the UK said stronger language was needed to condemn the presence of weapons outside Lebanese state control, specifically in the south.
After the vote, the UAE said it “particularly welcomed strengthened language” surrounding condemnation of the maintenance of weapons by armed groups “outside the state’s control.”
It added that the maintenance of weapons by these armed groups is a major threat to Lebanese sovereignty, and that it is “vitally important” for UNIFIL to carry out its operations to reduce these threats and enhance the country’s independence and territorial integrity.