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Annan Reaffirms Israeli Withdrawal From Lebanon

Annan Reaffirms Full Israeli Withdrawal From Lebanon After Reports To The Contrary

Following recent press statements and speeches in the General Assembly to the contrary, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reiterated the United Nations’ long-standing position that Israel has withdrawn its forces from all Lebanese territory in fulfillment of Security Council resolutions.

When Israel withdrew its forces in 2000 from southern Lebanon after its invasions of 1978 and 1982, it maintained a presence in the Shabaa Farms area, captured from Syria in 1967.

The United Nations recognized the new Blue Line separating Israel and Lebanon, with the Shabaa Farms under Israeli control, and considers Israel in full compliance with Council Resolutions 425 and 426 of 1978, which call on Israel to withdraw its forces from all Lebanese territory without delay.

But Hizbollah militants in southern Lebanon and others consider the Shabaa Farms Lebanese territory, and the area has been the scene of frequent clashes between Israel and Hizbollah.

As recently as Monday, for instance, during the General Assembly’s 60th anniversary General Debate, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah Al-Noaimi, while welcoming Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, voiced the hope that the international community would urge Israel to complete its withdrawal from Arab and Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan and the Lebanese Shabaa farms.

“The Secretary-General strongly believes that all parties must fully respect the Blue Line in its entirety, which was unanimously determined and repeatedly endorsed by the Security Council, most recently in its resolution 1614 (2005),” Mr. Annan said in a statement issued by his spokesman last night, referring to the latest resolution reaffirming that Israel had withdrawn from all Lebanese territory.

“The issue was discussed between the Secretary-General and Prime Minister (Ariel) Sharon at their meeting on 18 September 2005,” the statement added.

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