His Excellency Mr. Antonio Guterres
New York, NY 10017
Dear Mr. Secretary General:
As Republicans and Democrats, we are united in our concern about the continuing, serious violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and the resulting threat our ally Israel faces on its northern border.
As you know, UNSCR 1701 called upon the Lebanese Government to extend its sovereignty over all of Lebanon and to disarm “all aimed groups in Lebanon, so that ... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State.” The resolution also increased the size and mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to help Lebanon secure its border, prevent the unauthorized importation of aims and promote a zone north of the Israel-Lebanon border, “ ... free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL ... “
After 13 years, Lebanon’s attempts to implement this resolution have been unsuccessful. Instead, under the nose of UNIFIL and the international community, Hezbollah has built a murderous capability aimed at Israel’s civilian population. In the thirteen years since the unanimous passage of the Security Council resolution, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, has amassed a deadly arsenal of about 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel. Iran is currently exacerbating this threat by transferring precision guided munitions to Hezbollah and building munitions factories in Lebanon for the benefit of the internationally-recognized terrorist organization. Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, regularly threatens the people of Israel and, as recently as last month, Hezbollah launched a missile attack on northern Israel.
Hezbollah has also spent tens of millions of dollars to develop an underground attack capability. Last year, Israel exposed six terror tunnels that crossed from southern Lebanon into Israel. Hezbollah built these tunnels to enable armed Hezbollah te1rnrists to enter Israeli towns to kidnap and kill civilians.
The United Nations Security Council spoke out clearly and unanimously by passing UNSCR 1701. In doing so, the international community committed itself to Lebanese sovereignty and Israeli security. Hezbollah’s military build-up threatens both. We believe Beirut must address the Hezbollah challenge on an urgent basis. Continued failure to do so weakens Lebanon’s relationship with the international community and increases the threats to the Lebanese People and Israel’s security.
We also urge you, Mr. Secretary, to assist Lebanon’s Prime Minister and President to finally reclaim Lebanese sovereignty and implement all the terms of UNSCR 1701, including allowing UNIFIL to fulfill its mandate in southern Lebanon. At the same time, we request that you insist that UNIFIL fully implement its mandate despite pressure from Hezbollah. UNIFIL should accurately report on Hezbollah violations of UNSCR 1701 and work with the Government of Lebanon to remove Hezbollah’s weapons from the south.
It should be evident to all that Israel faces a growing threat from Hezbollah’s missile arsenal. No country can tolerate a terrorist organization on its border acquiring the capability to endanger its population. Israel has the right to defend itself and will have the full bipartisan support of the United States if it must act to protect its citizens.
Furthermore, in light of recent events, we recognize major steps will have to be taken by Lebanon’s political leadership to address deep popular· concerns about economic instability, governance, and corruption. We therefore urge the UN to continue efforts to ensure the government of Lebanon remains independent and fully sovereign.
We urge you, Mr. Secretary, to lead an international effo1t to limit Hezbollah’s capabilities and to avoid the devastating but avoidable outcome of which you have previously warned. We fear significant civilian costs in Lebanon if Israel must act to defend its citizens because Hezbollah has positioned its massive arsenal in civilian areas - turning much of Lebanon’s population into human shields. Hezbollah will bear the responsibility for that, as will the Government of Lebanon and the international community.
We look forward to the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with you in the near future.
Click here to see original letter with signatures.
Source: U.S. Congresswoman Elaine Luria.