U.N. confirms findings on Israel’s withdrawal


JERUSALEM, June 19 (JTA) — The United Nations is planning to dispatch 1,000 more peacekeepers to Lebanon next month to help patrol the border with Israel.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan made the announcement Monday despite a warning earlier in the day from Lebanon not to deploy more peacekeepers until Beirut agrees that Israel has completely withdrawn from Lebanon.

Annan also said he would like to eventually double the current 4,500- member U.N. peacekeeping force.

The force’s main task, he added, will be “to help the Lebanese government restore its effective authority” along the border.

Annan’s comments came after he met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud to discuss the situation in southern Lebanon.

Lebanese officials later described that meeting as frosty because of Lahoud’s opposition to a U.N. finding that Israel had withdrawn completely from Lebanese soil.

Annan said U.N. officials were investigating charges that Israel was violating the border.

Later Monday, a U.N. official said two Israeli violations had been found, but added that he expected it to be resolved by the next day.

Lebanon’s refusal to accept the U.N. finding initially prompted the Security Council to delay endorsing Annan’s statement that Israel is now in full compliance with a 1978 Security Council resolution.

But after much back and forth Sunday, the council decided to make the endorsement.

The council — in a nod to Russia, which presented the Lebanese view during the Security Council’s deliberations — also acknowledged that there may have been some violations of the border since last Friday, when Annan first confirmed that Israel had withdrawn to the international border.

Earlier Sunday, Russia’s attempts to block the council from issuing the endorsement angered other diplomats, who accused Russia of working with Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon.

The Security Council did not need Lebanon’s agreement, but without it, the United Nations would not have acted on plans to station peacekeepers in the region that Israel evacuated last month.

Israel considers the presence of such peacekeepers, along with the Lebanese military, crucial to bringing security to the area, which is now under the control of Hezbollah gunmen.

For its part, Hezbollah has threatened to renew attacks against Israel if the Jewish state does not withdraw from territory that Lebanon is claiming.

Israel welcomed Annan’s finding, adding that it expected U.N. peacekeepers and the Lebanese army to take up positions in the area vacated by the Israeli army.

Lebanon has dispatched security forces to the area, but has yet to deploy any army troops there.

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