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Greater Efforts Needed For Israeli-Lebanese Peace


Ban Ki-moon calls for stepped-up efforts to achieve Israeli-Lebanese peace

The months ahead will be critical to fully implementing the Security Council resolution that ended last year's war between Israel and Hizbollah, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in his latest report in which he calls for greater progress on a series of fronts so that a permanent ceasefire can be reached.

Mr. Ban writes that he hopes that last month's humanitarian gestures, in which the remains of an Israeli civilian were swapped for a Lebanese prisoner and the bodies of two Hizbollah members, will spur action to meet the humanitarian demands contained in resolution 1701.

"Compliance with the humanitarian demands... especially the release of the two abducted Israeli soldiers [Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser] is expected and demanded by the international community," he says.

The Secretary-General stresses that progress is also necessary on releasing Lebanese prisoners, enforcing the arms embargo on the Syrian-Lebanese border, ending Israeli air violations of Lebanese sovereignty, delineating the border between Lebanon and Syria and resuming the national dialogue in Lebanon relating to the weapons of Hizbollah and other armed groups.

But he notes that progress depends in part on a quick resolution of Lebanon's ongoing political stalemate, which has entered its eleventh month.

"The election of a President before the end of President Emile Lahoud's mandate on 24 November is an important milestone that will pave the way for further normalization of political life in Lebanon, for effective dialogue on issues of national concern and for the unimpeded functioning of Lebanon's institutions."

The terrorist attack on 19 September that killed a Lebanese lawmaker and seven others also highlighted the grave security situation inside the Middle Eastern country, he writes.

Mr. Ban urges all Lebanese leaders to play their part in trying to achieve national unity and reconciliation, warning that he fears a scenario may emerge in which the State has two competing administrations or a constitutional vacuum.

Turning to the overall progress so far on the implementation of resolution 1701, Mr. Ban says he is pleased that both the Lebanese and Israeli Governments have "an enduring commitment" to achieving that end, and that the Lebanese armed forces are working with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to ensure that the area south of the Litani River is free of unauthorized armed personnel or weapons and not used for any hostile activities.

Last year the Secretary-General appointed a senior cartographer to try to achieve an accurate definition of the contested Shab'a Farms area, and this report details the provisional conclusions of the cartographer.

Mr. Ban states that he intends to consult all the relevant parties and the members of the Security Council regarding any further developments.

ENDS

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