Dutch Issue Unifil Ultimatum

The Dutch battalion assigned to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) will be withdrawn next October 19 unless the situation in Lebanon shows significant improvement, the government has informed Parliament.

The tenure of the battalion expires July 19. The government is prepared to extend it for three months but not for a six month period as it has done up to now, according to Foreign Minister H. Van Den Broek and Defense Minister Jacob De Ruiter who wrote to Parliament on the subject this week. The Parliament is expected to comply with the government’s wishes.

The Cabinet ministers believe the Dutch unit cannot perform any useful task in Lebanon any longer because of the activities of the Israeli army and the Lebanese militias armed and financed by Israel. The Netherlands government has repeatedly protested to Israel but to no avail.

The government is not prepared to assign the battalion to other tasks, as requested by the Lebanese government, such as guarding the Palestinian refugee camps near Sidon and Tyre. Such assignments could involve Dutch soldiers in internal Lebanese conflicts, the government contends and might endanger the legal basis on which conscripts are dispatched to Lebanon.

NEXT STORY