| 17 June 2024, Monday |

What are the subtleties of negotiating regarding the UNIFIL extension?

Lebanon is on a date with decisive days until the thirtieth of this August, the date of the UN Security Council session to pass a resolution to renew the mandate of the international force operating in the south, “UNIFIL”, for an additional year, starting on the first of next September until August 31, 2024.

Negotiations and consultations are still continuing between the Lebanese mission in New York, led by Diplomat Counselor Jean Murad, and the delegations of the member states of the Security Council, upon the arrival of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, Abdullah Bou Habib.

Western sources describe to “Sawt Beirut International” that the fever of the consultations in the last quarter of a long negotiating marathon began to rage to improve the text in a manner that reflects national priorities within the equation of finding a common ground of understanding away from the policy of breaking bones.

Amendments that have been taken, and others that are still under negotiation and controversy, including the issue of freedom of movement, which the mission in New York may be close to finding the language of settlement according to well-informed Western sources, with some Security Council countries refusing to delete it altogether, on the grounds that it is an agreed language from last year.

Accordingly, during the bilateral meetings that the mission conducted in New York under the directives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in preparation for the August 30 session and its strenuous attempts to avoid unpleasant surprises that could surface at the last moment, it relied on the following logic:

– The amendment in the language and the fatwa in what was stipulated in Resolution 1701 will not serve the desired goal that all parties intersect, which is security and stability along the Blue Line and in the border areas on the one hand, as well as the security and safety of the peacekeeping forces deployed there on the other hand.

– Any addition that does not take into account the specificity of the reality of the situation and does not give weight to the timing, the surrounding circumstances, and keeping up, it will create free tension that does not exist, and everyone is indispensable for it.

– There are very effective channels of communication between UNIFIL and the Lebanese government, security and military agencies on the one hand, and between UNIFIL and the people in the south on the other hand, translated into quick impact projects implemented by UNIFIL with its civil wings with municipalities and local actors.

Accordingly, this part must be illuminated, built on and invested in instead of widening a rift that does not exist in the first place with unnecessary language in the Security Council, and making the matter appear as if there are two camps.

It is known that the negotiating cards in the quiver of the Lebanese negotiator in New York have not yet been unveiled, as long as the door to dialogue is still open and the hope of reaching a final draft resolution that takes into account the Lebanese concerns and demands to maintain the spirit of the text based on the aforementioned considerations, is still ahead.

  • Sawt Beirut International