Wednesday, November 01, 2006

UN admits that Syria is smuggling arms to Hizbullah in Lebanon

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Oct. 31, 2006, by tovah lazaroff and hilary leila krieger ....

Israel warned on Tuesday that it might rethink its adherence to the cease-fire resolution that ended Lebanon war this summer, following a United Nations report that Syria was smuggling arms to Hizbullah in Lebanon.

Also see The second Lebanon war: special report

It's the first time since the war that the UN had made such a clear statement with regard to the failure to disarm Hizbullah. The report flies in the face of the commitment Syrian President Bashar Assad made to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that Damascus would comply with the arms embargo against Hizbullah and would support UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for it to be disarmed.

"If Lebanon cannot implement its side of the resolution, obviously Israel would be entitled to rethink the implementation of our commitments," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday. He said the arms embargo was a critical element of Resolution 1701 and that the smuggling constituted a "core violation." Prime Minister's Office spokeswoman Miri Eisin said: "Until the Syrian-Lebanese border issue is resolved, we will continue to reserve our right to self defense."

While Israel continues to insist it is fulfilling all its obligations under the cease-fire and Resolution 1701, France and the European Union are charging Israel with breaching them by continuing to conduct surveillance flights over Lebanon. "We consider that these overflights constitute a violation of Lebanese sovereignty," a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry said. On Tuesday, IAF planes flew low over Hizbullah strongholds in south Beirut in the heaviest show of air power over Lebanon since August 14. Regev said the flights were "a response to the failure of the Lebanese side to implement its core commitments. When there are illicit arms transfers and no mechanism to [impede] them, we have cause to monitor such transfers."

...Speaking to the press after the meeting, the UN's envoy for Syria and Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen, reported that Syria was smuggling weapons into Lebanon. Representatives of the Lebanese government "have stated publicly and also in conversations with us that there have been arms coming across the border into Lebanon," said Larsen.....

AP contributed to this report.

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