Noting attacks across IsraelLebanon line Annan calls for renewal of UN force

In his latest report to the Security Council, Mr. Annan points in particular to a November Hizbollah attack which led to a heavy exchange of fire with the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). He also warns that the rocket firing incidents by unidentified armed elements, which took place in August and December, carried significant potential for military escalation.At the same time, the report adds, persistent Israeli air incursions into Lebanese airspace disrupt the fragile calm.“The serious breaches of the ceasefire underlined yet again the urgent need for the Government of Lebanon to act and extend its full authority throughout the south down to the Blue Line,” Mr. Annan says.He says he is encouraged by Lebanon’s commitment to hold perpetrators of the attacks responsible to avoid their recurrence, and he welcomes new steps for coordination between the Government and UNIFIL.“However,” he stresses, “more needs to be done.”Following the assassination of former Prime Minster Rafik Hariri last February and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian forces in April, the Secretary-General and the Security Council have been emphasizing the need for Lebanese control of all its territory.In the current report, Mr. Annan recommends better use of the adjunct UN Joint Security Force within its mandated strength of 1,000 troops, in a way that would enhance the role and activities of Lebanese forces in the south.He also reiterates his call on all the parties to abide by their obligations under the relevant Security Council resolutions and to exercise utmost restraint to contribute to stability in the wider region.Finally, he calls on UN Member States to pay the arrears for UNIFIL totalling $72.6 million in unpaid assessments.The Council is scheduled to discuss Lebanon next Wednesday. read more