image A U.N. peacekeeper of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) stands at a lookout point in Adaisseh village near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon December 21, 2015. REUTERS/Karamallah Daher - RTX1ZKZ5

UNIFIL to receive broader mandate in Lebanon

Progress has been reported in talks on broadening the mandate of the UNIFIL force in Lebanon. The United States and France agreed that UNIFIL, which is tasked with enforcing UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that effectively ended the Second Lebanon War, would be able to operate in villages in southern Lebanon, and wherever the UN forces would be barred from entering, this will be considered a violation of the UN Resolution. The decision came after Lebanon’s foreign minister announced his support for renewing the mandate of the UN peacekeeping forces in the country for another year, stressing that “preserving the mandate of UNIFIL is necessary for peace and stability.” The mandate, which is annually renewed, tasks UNIFIL with making sure southern Lebanon was “free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons” other than those belonging to the Lebanese government or UNIFIL. Israel has regularly complained that UNIFIL has too soft an approach towards enforcing the 2006 ceasefire and would like to see stronger action against Hezbollah military deployment that Israel alleges is taking place in violation of the ceasefire.