WASHINGTON – Israel on Friday protested before Claudio Graziano, head of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), for refusing to admit to the rearmament of Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL is responsible for enforcing the arms embargo in the region according to the UN Security Council's Resolution 1701.
Graziano claimed during a press conference on Thursday that Israel is the main culprit in violations of the resolution, ignoring completely, according to Israeli sources, the "Hizbullah's strategic violations".
Ambassador Dan Carmon, head of Israel's UN delegation, met with Graziano and told him that Israel is concerned about Hizbullah's violations of 1701 and the group's increasing power.
Carmon said Hizbullah's rearmament and the transferring of weapons from Iran and Syria to Lebanon should be mentioned in UNIFIL's reports to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and that Graziano should admit to this smuggling and all it entails.
UNIFIL is responsible for preventing the smuggling of weapons anywhere south of the Litani River. Therefore an admission of smuggling is tantamount to an admission of failure in maintaining Resolution 1701 by the UN force.
In its reports to the UN Israel has claimed that since the Second Lebanon War Hizbullah has retrieved the power it lost during the battles and even increased it by a third, as well as lengthened the range of its missiles.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni recently met with the UN secretary-general and maintained that Israel would not sit by as Hizbullah violates the resolution. The issue also came up when Barak met with US officials in Washington.