UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col today chaired the first Tripartite meeting of 2021, with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura. The meeting was convened in a curtailed format due to the ongoing COVID-19 restrictions. Discussions focused on the situation along the Blue Line, air and ground violations, as well as other issues within the scope of UNIFIL’s mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and related resolutions. While commending the cooperation of the parties in mitigating evolving challenges, Major General Del Col said any actions, especially adjacent to the Blue Line, must at all times be guided by principles of positive engagement through UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanisms, prior notification, and respect for the Blue Line to reduce potential sources of tension. “Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we continue to find ways and means to maintain our operational tempo and to ensure that operational outputs are at no times reduced throughout the area of operations,” he told the delegations. “Our widely appreciated liaison and coordination mechanisms continue to play a key role in de-escalating tensions and its augmentation is a critical enabler.” Citing recent examples of mitigating tensions along the Blue Line, the UNIFIL head said the tried-and-trusted liaison mechanisms of UNIFIL should be “our default position on issues of concern along the Blue Line rather than engaging in unilateral action.” He also updated the parties on the progress in the refurbishment of security infrastructure along the Blue Line, adding that more than 100 Blue Line markers and cut lanes have been refurbished in the recent months. “Blue Line marking is a deconfliction tool which helps to reduce ambiguity and potential points of friction. Enhancing the security infrastructure along the Blue Line is in all our interests,” he added. “Let us build on this new momentum.” Major-General Del Col stressed that LAF and IDF activities along the Blue Line should remain predictable, with sufficient prior notification and coordination through UNIFIL in order to prevent escalation and potential misunderstandings. Tripartite meetings have been held regularly under the auspices of UNIFIL since the end of the 2006 war in south Lebanon as an essential conflict management and confidence-building mechanism.
2 Feb 2021