The cessation of hostilities between Israel and Lebanon continues to hold but remains fragile, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his annual report referring to the implementation of the Security Council resolution following the Second Lebanon War.
Ban explains that there were a number of unresolved issues which could lead to an escalation.
"Almost three years after Resolution 1701 was adopted, it remains the best available blueprint for the parties to move from the current state of cessation of hostilities towards a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution,” Ban wrote in the report submitted to the Security Council on Tuesday night.
Security Council Resolution 1701 led to an end in the fighting between the Israel Defense Forces and Hezbollah in August 2008. It was aimed at strengthening and extend the power of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), impose significant limitations on the Hezbollah organization near the Israeli border, deploy the Lebanese army in the southern part of the country and strengthen the Lebanese government's sovereignty in the area.
According to a statement released by the UN headquarters on Tuesday night, the UN chief cited efforts by the parties, in cooperation with UNIFIL, to visibly mark the Blue Line, as well as the handover by Israel of technical strike data on cluster bombs to UNIFIL in order to allow UN peacekeepers to deal with unexploded ordnance scattered in southern Lebanon.
Calls for disarmament of all armed groups
However, Ban did not spare criticism. According to the statement, "He voices concern at the allegations by Lebanon’s government that Israeli spy cells have been operating in Lebanon and that the IDF helped alleged spies to cross from Lebanon into Israel through the Blue Line.
"If these allegations are proved to be true, he writes, they could endanger the fragile cessation of hostilities that exists."
The report also addressed Hezbollah's operations, saying there is concern "about the presence of armed groups in Lebanon operating outside the control of the state, which poses a challenge to the ability of the state to exercise full control over its territory.
“The United Nations continues to believe that the disarmament of all armed groups should take place through a Lebanese-led political process, so that there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than those authorized by the State."
Ban concluded the report with a pledge to continue his diplomatic efforts to solve the problem. He stressed that only a permanent ceasefire would help clam the situation down and prevent another armed conflict.