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"No military solution" in Southern Lebanon: UN

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks at a press conference in New York, on June 21, 2024. (Screenshot of UN Web TV)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated on Friday that "there is no military solution" to the clashes between Israel and Hezbollah on the southern border of Lebanon, urging the parties to resort to the "diplomatic and political avenues available to them."

In a press conference held at the UN headquarters in New York, Guterres warned of a potential "reckless act" and "miscalculation" by either side, which he said "could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination.”

"The people of the region and the world cannot afford for Lebanon to become a new Gaza," he added.

The clashes in southern Lebanon, which began when Hezbollah opened a "front in support of the resistance in Gaza" on Oct. 8, 2023, have resulted in 468 deaths. Most of the victims are fighters or members of Hezbollah, but according to L'Orient Today’s count, there are also 73 civilians, three journalists, and about twenty medics among the dead.

“I felt compelled today to voice my profound concerns about the escalation between Israel and

Hezbollah along the Blue Line," Guterres said at the beginning of his address. He then condemned "an escalation in continuous exchanges of fire" and "an escalation in bellicose rhetoric from both sides as if an all-out war was imminent."

In his latest speech on Wednesday, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah ramped up his rhetoric against Israel following a sharp increase in border tensions after the Israeli assassination of Taleb Abdallah, a senior Hezbollah commander. His threats even extended to Cyprus, declaring, "We warn the government of Nicosia: opening Cypriot airports and bases to the Israeli enemy to attack Lebanon would mean that the Cypriot government is a party to the war.”

Reason and rationality

"On both sides of the Blue Line, many lives have already been lost, tens of thousands of people

have been displaced, and homes and livelihoods have been destroyed," Guterres added, reminding that "unexploded ordnance (...) poses an additional threat to the inhabitants of Israel and Lebanon, as well as to UN and humanitarian personnel."

The UN Secretary-General once again urged the parties to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah by establishing a presence of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) in southern Lebanon.

"And displaced communities must be able to return to their homes. The world must say loudly and clearly: immediate de-escalation is not only possible — it is essential," Guterres insisted.

Finally, the UN chief called on the parties to "show reason and rationality," emphasizing that "it is time for the parties to practically and pragmatically engage in the diplomatic and political avenues available to them."

"UN peacekeepers are on the ground working to de-escalate tensions and help prevent miscalculation," he assured. He concluded by saying that the United Nations continues to push "for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, and a real pathway to a two-state solution.”

© 2022 L’Orient-Le Jour


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