Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Williams: Damascus says to resolve Shebaa Farms issue, a peace agreement with Israel is needed

Windows Live Messenger. Multitasking at its finest.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


New York, Jan 17 2009 1:10PM
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Beirut on Saturday, again urged an immediate ceasefire to end the 22-day Israeli offensive in Gaza, calling on both sides to stop the fighting first and work out the details later in a bid to halt what he called an "unprecedented" level of violence.
"We have no time to lose. I demand, again, an immediate ceasefire," Mr. Ban said in an address to the Lebanese National Assembly.
"Both sides must first stop the fighting now. We cannot wait for all the details, the mechanisms, to be conclusively negotiated and agreed, while civilians continue to be traumatized, injured and killed," he stated.


The Secretary-General arrived in Beirut as part of his ongoing visit to the region to help find a diplomatic solution to the crisis, which began on 27 December when Israel launched a military operation in Gaza with the stated aim of ending Hamas rocket attacks against Israel.

Three weeks of violence have already claimed over 1,000 lives, including many women and children, and wounded over 5,000, in addition to causing widespread destruction and tremendous suffering for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinian residents.
"The level of violence in Gaza is unprecedented in recent decades," he noted, citing the high numbers of casualties, the fact that hospitals are struggling to cope and that public infrastructure has been destroyed.
"There are no safe places," he added, recalling that even UN shelters have not been able to provide sanctuary to civilians trying to flee the fighting, having come under fire several times in recent days.
Mr. Ban, who already met with officials in Cairo, Amman, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Ramallah and Ankara, said the goal of his mission is to boost diplomatic efforts to achieve an immediate ceasefire, as called for by the Security Council last week in resolution 1860, and to ensure that urgent humanitarian assistance be provided, without restriction, to those in desperate need.

The Security Council's call for a ceasefire has so far gone unheeded. The UN General Assembly last night, following a two-day emergency meeting on Gaza, joined its voice to the Council by demanding full respect for resolution 1860, including its call for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces and unimpeded provision of humanitarian aid.
Yesterday Mr. Ban conferred with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, and called on Israel to unilaterally cease hostilities.
"There is no time to lose, I would even strongly urge [the] Israeli Government and leadership to declare unilaterally, so that there will be a relief for humanitarian workers and [the] people of Gaza," he told reporters after meeting with Mr. Fayyad.

"We are very close to have an agreement to a ceasefire," he added, urging those involved in negotiations to wrap them up as soon as possible. "That is what I will continue to work on over the coming few days." speaking to the press after his talks with President Abbas, Mr. Ban said that more days of fighting will only lead to "more casualties, more losses of human lives, more destruction. I would urge again that a unilateral declaration of a ceasefire would be necessary."
In his address today, the Secretary-General also lauded the progress made in Lebanon over the past year, with the election of President Michel Suleiman, the formation of a Government of national unity and the launching of a national dialogue.
"But this process is as fragile as it is vital," he cautioned. "I urge you to nurture it, and not allow short-term factors to deter you from shaping solutions that will stand the test of time."
He also noted that the Gaza conflict is not unlike the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah in which many innocent lives were lost. "I urge all parties in Lebanon and in Israel to continue to show restraint during this tense time in the region," he said.
Following recent incidents of rocket launches from Lebanese territory into Israel, and Israel's return of fire, the Secretary-General has voiced his concern over any escalation of tension along the so-called Blue Line that separates Israeli and Lebanese sides, at a time when fighting continues in Gaza.
"Further attacks across the Blue Line would put at risk the stability brought about by resolution 1701," he told Lebanese lawmakers, referring to the Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war.
While in Lebanon, Mr. Ban also visited the UN Interim Force there -- known as UNIFIL -- where he met with Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano and his staff, and received a briefing on
the situation in UNIFIL's area of operations and the work of the peacekeepers in collaboration with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
 "UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces have together created a new security environment in south Lebanon," he noted during the visit.
"This provides a window of opportunity for achieving a permanent ceasefire and long term solution to the conflict. For this to be successful, it is important for the parties to stay committed to the process towards the full implementation of resolution 1701."

Thursday, January 15, 2009


New York, Jan 15 2009 2:10PM

After the second time in a week that rockets were fired from Lebanese territory towards Israel yesterday, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (<"">UNIFIL) and Lebanese armed forces found a launching site and disarmed other rockets that were about to fire, a UN spokesperson said.

Also today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned yesterday's attack, as he did in the case of last week's rocket launches, remaining "deeply concerned" over any escalation of tension along the so-called Blue Line that separates Israeli and Lebanese sides, at a time when fighting continues in Gaza.

<"">According to UNIFIL, the mission launched an investigation into yesterday's firing incident in close cooperation with the parties, intensively patrolling the area where the rockets had originated with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

Hidden amidst trees, close to a school in the general area of El Hebbariye, the joint search party discovered three rockets equipped with timers ready to be fired, on a launch pad wired with an explosive device.

The rockets were deactivated on the ground before they could launch.

In the same area, the investigation team found evidence of two rockets that had been fired in the direction of Israel, and a second UNIFIL team discovered fragments of two rockets in the area of Ain Arab, on Lebanese territory.

UNIFIL said that its Force Commander, Major-General Claudio Graziano, is in contact with the Command of the LAF and the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), and has stressed the importance of UNIFIL being able to complete the investigation to ascertain as soon as possible all the facts relating to what it called a "very serious incident."

The mission will submit the results of the investigation to the UN Security Council.

In the meantime, the Force Commander has urged maximum restraint and is working with both parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities, UNIFIL said.
Jan 15 2009 2:10PM

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


New York, Jan 14 2009 2:10PM
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reported that several rockets were fired at Israel from Lebanese territory today, with Israeli forces returning fire, despite calls for restraint from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and others after a similar incident last week.

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the rockets fired from Lebanon, according to UNIFIL.

There were also no reports of damage or injuries from the firing or from the two rounds of artillery Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) fired in return, the Force said.

UNIFIL, in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces, is currently investigating on the ground close to the northern boundary of its Area of Operations in the Eastern Sector, to locate the launching site of the rocket fire.

The incident comes as the IDF continues the military operation it launched in Gaza on 27 December, with the stated aim of ending rocket and other attacks by militants in the Strip.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned last week's incident and reminded the parties of their obligation to fully adhere to Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah, and to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement.

UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano today once again urged maximum restraint, and is working with both parties to maintain the cessation of hostilities.

A joint UNIFIL-Lebanese patrol, during a search operation in the general area of El Hebbariye after today's rocket fire, discovered three live rockets prepared for launch and deactivated them on the spot. The two groups are continuing intensive patrolling and search throughout the area.
Jan 14 2009 2:10PM

Friday, January 09, 2009


New York, Jan 9 2009 2:10PM
One day after at least three rockets were fired into Israel from south Lebanon, the top United Nations envoy there met with Lebanese leaders to discuss measures to keep tensions from Gaza from spreading to that country, while UN peacekeepers discovered an old weapons cache as part of its intensified monitoring efforts.

"Utmost vigilance is required during this period to avoid any tension from spreading to Lebanon," Michael Williams, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri agreed during their talks, according to a statement released by the Coordinator's office.

In regard to yesterday's rocket attack, Mr. Williams added, "The United Nations is encouraged by the immediate measures taken by the Lebanese Army, in very close cooperation with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, to control the situation and to prevent further incidents from taking place."

The two officials also discussed Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's forthcoming visit to the region, which also came up during Mr. Williams' meeting with Lebanese President Michel Sleiman.

The weapons cache found today was hidden inside two disused bunkers located between the hills of Kafer Chouba and Kafer Hammam in the Eastern Sector of the area of responsibility of the UN Force, known as UNIFIL.

According to a UNIFIL press release, the cache comprises approximately 34 Grad-P rockets along with some boxes of ammunition and was covered by camouflage nets.

There was no sign of any recent use of the bunkers and the weapons appear to date from the period of the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hizbollah, UNIFIL added.

It said that UNIFIL Explosive Ordnance Teams together with the Lebanese Armed Forces are currently conducting further inspections at the location, after which the weapons will be handed over to the Lebanese Armed Forces for disposal.

In accordance with UN Security Council resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 fighting, UNIFIL and the Lebanese Armed Forces are charged with ensuring that the area between the Litani River and the Israeli line of withdrawal (Blue Line) is free of armed personnel, assets, and weapons other than their own.

"Recent developments have prompted us to enhance our joint presence on the ground. It was in the course of this intensified patrolling activity that the weapons cache was found," UNIFIL Force Commander Major-General Claudio Graziano said.
Jan 9 2009 2:10PM


New York, Jan 8 2009 1:10PM
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has confirmed that at least three rockets were fired into Israel from south Lebanon, with Israeli forces returning fire, and called for maximum restraint following the attack, which comes amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

<"">UNIFIL said the rockets fired into Israel came from the general area of Tayr Harfa in south Lebanon. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) returned fire with a few artillery rounds directed at the location from where the rockets originated.

The IDF meanwhile is continuing with the military operation it began on 27 December, with the stated aim of ending rocket and other attacks by militants in Gaza. The nearly two-week operation has reportedly led to some 680 deaths and injured more than 3,000.

UNIFIL Force Commander General Claudio Graziano is maintaining close contact with the parties and has called for maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.

The parties reassured the Force Commander about their continued commitment to maintain the cessation of hostilities, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.

UNIFIL, in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, has taken immediate measures to identify the perpetrators of the attack, for which no one has yet claimed responsibility.

Additional troops have been deployed on the ground and patrols have been intensified across UNIFIL's area of operations to prevent any further incidents. The Lebanese Armed Forces has also decided to deploy additional units in the south in order to further enhance security in the area.
Jan 8 2009 1:10PM