Lebanon accuses Israel of breaching ‘sovereignty’ with border wall

In a three-way UN meeting, Lebanese representatives denounced Israel’s intention to construct a wall to protect its citizens.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Israeli military representatives met Monday under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) that monitors the border between the two countries to discuss various areas of contention.

One of the primary areas of disagreement is the building of a security wall on Israel’s side of the internationally recognized border, called the Blue Line.

The two sides have regular tripartite meetings at UN positions in the Ras al-Naqoura border area in order to prevent their disagreements from becoming armed conflicts.

In a statement, UNIFIL said the meeting had received great attention “due to engineering works south of the Blue Line previously announced by the Israeli side.” This was a reference to a wall Israel is beginning to build to prevent Hezbollah terrorists from infiltrating the country and to protect Israeli civilians from spillover from the conflict in Syria.

Israeli media reported last year that one barrier will be built in the Western Galilee near Kibbutz Hanita and Shlomi and another will be constructed close to Kibbutz Misgav Am, Kibbutz Manara and the town of Metulla.

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In a statement following the meeting, the LAF said that Lebanon “reject[s] the construction of this wall as it violates Lebanese sovereignty.” Lebanese media has reported that there are 13 specific points along the Blue Line where Israel is allegedly impinging on Lebanese land. Israel maintains that all construction is taking place on the Israeli side of the border.

Following the meeting, UNIFIL force commander Major General Beary put out a statement saying, “UNIFIL’s position on the construction works…is that any activity close to the Blue Line should be predictable, with sufficient prior notification to allow for coordination by the parties, so as to avoid misunderstandings and prevent incidents.”

He praised the tone of the meeting, adding, “Today’s discussions were useful and allowed both parties to assert their positions. It was agreed to continue to use the tripartite forum to address the issue.”

According to UN Resolution 1701, under which the Second Lebanon War came to an end, UNIFIL’s mandate was extended to not only to monitor the cessation of hostilities but also to accompany and support the LAF as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon to take control of the area from Hezbollah, which instigated the conflict with Israel.

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Israel has long claimed that UNIFIL forces instead allow Hezbollah forces and arms to move freely in South Lebanon, in contradiction of its very mandate. The wall, says the IDF, is a necessary defensive measure in the face of the constant stream of threats coming from Hezbollah leaders, and their capability to carry out those threats.