As we speak, an earthquake is shaking the Middle East to its core. The aftershocks of this earthquake are being felt throughout the world and it is necessary for a brave few to stand in defense of the values we hold dear – liberty, democracy, and peace.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Israel finds itself in a region of the world where peace-creation remains elusive, but peacekeeping operations are needed to maintain stability. For decades, Israel has maintained close cooperation with various UN peacekeeping missions. As we speak, many parts of the Middle East are in flames. The region continues to be characterized by bloodshed, repression, chaos and instability.
Before continuing, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Security Council for extending the UN Disengagement Observer Force mandate for another six months. I also want to thank the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the member states that have stepped forward to maintain the UN’s presence and activities on the Israeli-Syrian border, including India, Ireland, Fiji, Nepal and also the Netherlands and Bhutan. Finally, Israel commends UNDOF commander, Major General Thapa of Nepal, for his strong leadership in the face of the current challenges.
Israel also attaches importance to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as a stabilizing force in our region. I would like to take this opportunity to thank UNIFIL commander, Major-General Portolano of Italy, for his leadership amidst the current challenges. We also thank the Troop Contributing Countries for their ongoing support. With tensions and volatility escalating, Israel re-affirms its commitment to UNSC Resolution 1701 and calls on our neighbors to do the same. We also call on our neighbors to utilize the trilateral forum to raise, discuss and solve routine minor incidents.
The relative calm in Southern Lebanon is deceptive. In the 21st semi-annual report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, the Secretary-General stated, and I quote, "The maintenance by Hezbollah of sizeable and sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the Government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern, in particular because it creates an atmosphere of intimidation and represents a key challenge to the safety of Lebanese civilians and to the Government monopoly on the legitimate use of force."
Indeed, Hezbollah continues to build an army equipped with tens of thousands of missiles – more than the stockpiles of many NATO members. To make matters worse, Hezbollah now has access to a large stockpile of strategic weapons. As clearly stated in PM Netanyahu’s address at the UN General Assembly, Hezbollah has smuggled into Lebanon Surface-to-Air missiles, and cruise missiles. Hezbollah also has precision-guided surface-to-surface missiles and attack drones.
Israel has an interest in the stability of Lebanon and in the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1701. The entrenchment of Hezbollah in the towns of southern Lebanon, and specifically in the areas within UNIFIL’s mandate, constitutes a violation of Resolution 1701. The concealment of weapons within civilian population centers is a war crime. Israel holds the Lebanese Government responsible for all that occurs on Lebanese territory and the Government of Lebanon bears responsibility for the implementation of Resolution 1701.
As we speak, an earthquake is shaking the Middle East to its core. It is rattling the political structures and institutions that have maintained the stability of the region for decades. The aftershocks of this earthquake are being felt throughout the world and it is necessary for a brave few to stand in defense of the values we hold dear – liberty, democracy, and peace.
Israel supports the UN forces serving on its borders and acting as a stabilizing force in the region. However, history has shown us that we simply cannot rely on others to ensure our security. From our earliest days as a nation, we have had to defend our borders from those who sought our annihilation. Israel has always known that in difficult times it will have to defend itself, quite possibly by itself.
From the Middle East to Central Africa UN Peacekeeping is facing unprecedented challenges in the field. UN Peacekeepers are confronted with violent armed groups, criminal gangs and often operate in areas with a distinct absence of any state structures. Furthermore, the challenging mandates require the deployment of large forces in difficult terrain.
Israel recognizes the need for reform in Peacekeeping and is looking forward to working with the secretariat on the basis of the report of the High-level Independent Panel on Peace Operations as well as additional reports including the Expert Panel on Technology and Innovation in UN Peacekeeping.
Israel has much to offer in terms of cutting edge technology and sustainable logistics, as well as training in the fields of medicine, protection of civilians, and protection of peacekeepers. We look forward to continue engaging and cooperating with UN peacekeeping in these areas and more.
Israel pays tribute to the brave men and women from countries across the world who serves in UN peacekeeping operations. We thank them for their dedication and commend them for their commitment.