UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 23)
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, strongly defended the south Lebanon security zone at a meeting of the Security Council Monday night. He said if it did not exist, “south Lebanon and northern Israel would again face an intolerable situation. A terrible violence would once again be unleashed.”
The Security Council convened at the request of France to debate the future of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of which the French contingent is the largest–1,391 men of a total of 5,827. Four French UNIFIL soldiers have been killed in recent attacks and 33 wounded. Netanyahu, in his speech, rejected vigorously the contention that UNIFIL was made vulnerable because Israel refuses to allow it to deploy southwards to the international border — meaning in essence, abandonment of the security zone.
The allegation was contained in a report to the Security Council on UNIFIL’s problems, issued last Friday, Netanyahu said the report was misguided in blaming Israel for those problems. He maintained in his speech that the attacks on UNIFIL originate “overwhelmingly” from “the Shiite terror organization known as Hezbullah … (the) so-called ‘Party of God’.”
He charged that Hezbullah is equipped, financed, inspired and motivated by the Iranian regime of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and by Syria. “All of us remember its barbaric attacks against the multinational peacekeepers, as the spearhead of the Syrian effort to expel this force from Lebanon. Iran, of course was an enthusiastic partner to this perfidy,” the Israeli envoy declared.
He said “Hezbullah focusses on UNIFIL as part of Khomeini’s policy to expel all Western forces from Lebanon to facilitate its becoming an Islamic republic.” He quoted from religious edicts of Shiite extremists which called for the “killing of Frenchmen at every opportunity.”
If the French decide to withdraw their troops, the UNIFIL force would fall apart, Netanyahu said. He said France was seriously considering this option. The French contingent has in fact been redeployed to a safer area in south Lebanon and its positions taken over by Nepalese troops.
ONLY ISRAEL CAN PREVENT SHIITE ATTACKS
Netanyahu told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after the debate that UNIFIL cannot realistically deploy to the Israel-Lebanon border because Israel is the only power that can prevent attacks by Shiite extremists and Palestinian terrorists on Israel’s population.
Nevertheless, he said, Israel does not want to see UNIFIL evacuate the area or change positions. He said the U.S. understands Israel’s policy in south Lebanon and also wants the status quo to remain.
According to Netanyahu, the underlying issue in the Security Council debate lies in the inherent contradiction of having a peace-keeping force in a region where there is no peace to keep. “UNIFIL is caught in the contradiction” and Israel is not leaving south Lebanon in the immediate future, he told the JTA.
OUTLINES ISRAEL’S GOAL
In his Security Council speech, Netanyahu declared that Israel “will continue to do what is necessary to protect the lives and safety of our citizens. That is our goal, our only goal, vis-a-vis Lebanon. And we shall continue to work with any party in Lebanon genuinely interested in securing peace in this area.”
He added: “UNIFIL has tried to assist in this objective. It has suffered painful casualties in the process. Although we did not request UNIFIL’s establishment, everyone in Israel shares the grief of the bereaved families and their governments. We cannot and must not, however, expect UNIFIL to defend Israel. This was never and cannot be UNIFIL’s purpose.”
Meanwhile, France has asked the Security Council to adopt a resolution calling on Israel to withdraw from the security zone within 15 days after the resolution is passed.