The ins and outs of Resolution 1701


On Aug. 11 the United Nations Security Council approved Security Council Resolution 1701 as the basis for a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Lebanon. This was the latest edition of resolutions dealing with Israel and Lebanon, the earliest, 425, dating back to 1978 and also including the often-mentioned 1559.

The Security Council starts by expressing its concern about the escalation of fighting since the abduction of two Israeli soldiers on July 12. The resolution emphasizes the need to address the causes of the conflict; i.e., the abduction of two Israeli servicemen and calls for their immediate and unconditional release. It allows for Hezbollah’s demands for an exchange of prisoners:

“Mindful of the sensitivity of the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.”

The council also welcomes the seven-point plan presented by Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora to extend the authority of the Lebanese government over all its territory by deploying the Lebanese national army and not allowing any weapons without the consent of the government. It should be noted that Hezbollah is a part of the Lebanese government. The seven-point plan also includes a discussion on the status of Shiba Farms, a small but strategically important area captured by Israel from Syria in 1967 and in 1974 recognized by the U.N. as Syrian territory held by Lebanon. The U.N. confirmed that the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 was complete, despite the Israeli army remaining in Shiba Farms. Hezbollah, on the other hand, claims Shiba Farms is in fact Lebanese and not Syrian territory and has used this claim to justify its continued struggle against Israel.

The resolution itself is a 19-paragraph document that commences with a call for a full cessation of hostilities by both parties, and after the end of the fighting that the government of Lebanon, in coordination with the United Nation Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deploys the Lebanese army in southern Lebanon. UNIFIL is a 2,000-man U.N. force in southern Lebanon that has been in place since 1982. UNIFIL is to be upgraded both in equipment and numbers (up to 15,000) in order to cope with its new and expanded mandate, in which UNIFIL is supposed not only to monitor the agreement but also to help enforce it:

“(The Security Council) Emphasizes the importance of the extension of the control of the Government of Lebanon over all Lebanese territory in accordance with the provisions of resolution 1559 (2004) and resolution 1680 (2006), and of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, for it to exercise its full sovereignty, so that there will be no weapons without the consent of the Government of Lebanon and no authority other than that of the Government of Lebanon;

“(The Security Council) Calls for Israel and Lebanon to support a permanent cease-fire and a long-term solution based on the following principles and elements:

— full respect for the Blue Line by both parties;

— security arrangements to prevent the resumption of hostilities, including the establishment between the Blue Line and the Litani River of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL as authorized in paragraph 11, deployed in this area;

— full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and of resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), that require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, pursuant to the Lebanese cabinet decision of 27 July, 2006, there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State;

— no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its Government;

— no sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its Government;

— provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of land mines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession.”

The Blue Line is the name the U.N. gave to the Israeli-Lebanon border after the Israeli withdrawal in May 2000 confirming that Israel had left all Lebanese territory. The question of ownership of Shiba Farms will be discussed as paragraph 10 of the resolution.

“(The Security Council) Requests the Secretary-General to develop, in liaison with relevant international actors and the concerned parties, proposals to implement the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords, and resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1680 (2006), including disarmament, and for delineation of the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed or uncertain, including by dealing with the Shebaa Farms area, and to present to the Security Council those proposals within thirty days.”

“(The Security Council) Requests the Secretary-General urgently to put in place measures to ensure UNIFIL is able to carry out the functions envisaged in this resolution, urges Member States to consider making appropriate contributions to UNIFIL and to respond positively to requests for assistance from the Force, and expresses its strong appreciation to those who have contributed to UNIFIL in the past. At the moment France will provide a majority of the troops needed.”

The cease-fire began on Aug. 14 at 6 a.m. GMT.