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Behind the Headlines: UN Security Council Resolution 1701

12 Aug 2006

The resolution adopted on August 11, 2006 contains the essential elements that Israel believes can build a more stable and secure situation.

   Members of the UN Security Council vote on a resolution calling for an end to the conflict in Lebanon (Reuters)

UN Security Council Resolution 1701, adopted on 11 August 2006, contains the essential elements that Israel believes can build a more stable and secure situation and will prevent Hizbullah from ever again being able to create the sort of regional crisis we have witnessed in the past month.

The preamble of the resolution:

  • clearly puts the blame for the current crisis on Hizbullah
  • calls for the unconditional release of the Israeli hostages, and
  • calls for the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559

In the operative paragraphs, the resolution:

  • calls for the cessation of all Hizbullah armed attacks
  • creates a new, strengthened UNIFIL (15,000 troops)
  • gives UNIFIL a improved mandate (to take "all necessary action" to prevent hostile activities of any kind in its area of operations)
  • calls that there be no armed groups, foreign or domestic (ie armed Hizbullah militia or Syrian and Iranian military advisors) in Lebanon
  • establishes an embargo of weapons to Lebanese groups other than the government, enforced by UNIFIL (at airports, seaports and border crossings) , and
  • forbids Hizbullah armed elements from returning to southern Lebanon, from the Blue Line to the Litani River.

Thus the resolution contains the fundamental elements which Government of Israel set out to achieve following Hizbullah’s unprovoked cross border attack and bombardment on 12 July:

  • the return of its hostages
  • the removal of the Hizbullah threat to northern Israeli cities, and
  • the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1559 calling for Lebanon extend its sovereignty to all its territory, deploy its army south to the Israel-Lebanon border and disarm Hizbullah.

Israel expects the international community to take all the concrete steps required in order to bring about the full and effective implementation of the resolution just adopted.

Security Council Resolution 1701
- Background and significance

1.  Background

a. As a result of Hizbullah’s attack on Israel on July 12th, Israel embarked on a campaign in Lebanon that was designed to damage the terrorism infrastructure in Lebanon, to change the rules of the game between Israel and Lebanon and to create more favorable conditions for handling the root causes of the attack on Israel.

b. The decision of the Political-Security Cabinet on July 16th determined the principles of the political solution to the crisis in the Lebanese arena as follows:

  • Release of the kidnapped soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev and their unconditional return to Israel.
  • Cessation of missile and rocket fire against the residents of the State of Israel and against Israeli targets.
  • Full and complete implementation of UN Resolution 1559, including the disarming of all the armed militias, enforcement of the sovereignty of the Lebanese government over all its territory and deployment of the Lebanese army along the border with Israel.

c. The decision of the Political-Security Cabinet on August 9th determined that the political efforts, particularly in the framework of the UN Security Council, strove to achieve the following goals:

  • Immediate and unconditional return of the kidnapped soldiers.
  • Immediate cessation of all hostilities from Lebanon against Israel and against Israeli targets, including cessation of the missile and rocket fire against Israel.
  • Full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1559.
  • Deployment of an effective international force in southern Lebanon, together with the Lebanese army, along the Blue Line.
  • Preventing Hizbullah from rehabilitating its operational capabilities, mainly by preventing the transfer of arms and weapons from Syria and Iran to Lebanon.

d. On August 11th, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1701, containing the vital elements that Israel believes can build a more secure and stable situation which, among other things, will prevent Hizbullah from plunging the region into another crisis like the one we experienced this past month.

Main points of UN Security Council Resolution 1701

2.  The preamble

a. The preamble to the resolution expressly states that the cause of the current crisis is Hizbullah’s July 12th attack on Israel. The preamble recognizes the human casualties in Israel and Lebanon, the damage to the infrastructure and the large number of displaced persons in both countries. This is the first time that a Security Council resolution has referred to Hizbullah by name and blamed it for the crisis.

b. While emphasizing the need for a cessation of the violence, the preamble also emphasizes the urgent need to deal with the factors that caused the present crisis, including the unconditional release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Note should be made of the distinction between the call to release the kidnapped soldiers and the reference in a separate paragraph to the “sensitivity to the issue of prisoners and encouraging the efforts aimed at urgently settling the issue of the Lebanese prisoners detained in Israel.”

c. The preamble notes the decision of the Lebanese government, as expressed in Prime Minister Siniora’s seven point plan, to extend its sovereignty over all its territory with its own legitimate armed forces, so that there will be no weapons and no authority  without the consent of the Lebanese government.

d. The resolution welcomes the decision of the Lebanese government to place 15,000 Lebanese army troops in southern Lebanon and its willingness to request the assistance of additional UNIFIL forces.

e. The last paragraph of the preamble, paragraph 10, states that the situation in Lebanon constitutes a threat to international peace and security. This language was adopted from Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and strengthens the operative parts of the entire resolution.

3.  Operative paragraphs

a. In operative paragraph 1, the resolution calls for a full cessation of hostilities, based, in particular, upon the immediate cessation by Hizbullah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations. Thus a clear  distinction is made between the two parties to the military hostilities, and Israel is given permission by the Security Council to continue defensive actions against a terrorist organization.

b. In operative paragraph 2, the resolution states that Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon will occur in parallel to the deployment of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL. There is no demand for Israel’s immediate withdrawal from Lebanon. Rather, the withdrawal will be gradual and connected with the gradual deployment of the Lebanese army and the UN forces.

c. The resolution emphasizes the importance of extending the Lebanese government’s control over all the territory of Lebanon, according to Resolutions 1559 and 1680. It also refers to the Taif Accords, which state 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 importance of this paragraph lies in the reiteration of the statement appearing in the Taif Accords, and in Security Council Resolution 1559, regarding the disarmament of all the militias in Lebanon.

d. Operative paragraph 8 specifies the elements of a long-term solution between Israel and Lebanon, and the Secretary-General is requested to secure as soon as possible agreements in principle from the government of Lebanon and the government of Israel to the principles and elements of this solution. This includes, among others, the establishment of an area free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL between the Blue Line and the Litani River; full implementation of the relevant provisions of the Taif Accords and of Resolution 1559, which require the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that, there will be no foreign forces in Lebanon without the consent of its government, no sale or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government, and provision to the United Nations of all remaining maps of landmines in Lebanon in Israel’s possession.

e. Paragraph 10 requests the Secretary-General to develop, within thirty days, proposals to delineate the international borders of Lebanon, especially in those areas where the border is disputed, including the Shebaa farms area. The resolution does not go into any further detail. It should be noted that ideas for resolving the dispute over the Shebaa farms are noted in previous Security Council resolutions and in Siniora’s seven point plan.

f. Operative paragraph 11 contains a decision, worded in the text of Chapter 7, to strengthen and enhance the UNIFIL force by up to a maximum of 15,000 troops and equipment and by adapting the mandate of the force. Paragraph 12 gives the force the authority, which did not exist beforehand, to act against Hizbullah. In addition to its existing duties, the force will supervise the cease-fire, assist the Lebanese army to deploy in southern Lebanon, engage in humanitarian activities, assist the Lebanese army to establish the demilitarized zone in the south and assist Lebanon in imposing an arms embargo.

g. Paragraphs 14 and 15 call for Lebanon to secure its borders to prevent the entry into Lebanon of arms that are not designated for the Lebanese army, and call for other states to take the necessary measures to prevent their nationals or their territories from being used for the sale or supply of arms that are not intended for the Lebanese government and other military training or assistance.

h. The Secretary-General is requested to report to the Security Council within one week on the implementation of this resolution.

4.  Comparison of Israel’s objectives and the components of 1701

Following is a comparison between the objectives set by Israel for concluding the conflict, and the components of Resolution 1701 passed by the UN Security Council.

a. The reasons that led to the outbreak of hostilities
• Israel claimed that it was due to an attack by Hizbullah with no provocation from Israel.
• Preamble paragraph 2 of the resolution states that the deterioration in the situation in Lebanon began with Hizbullah’s attack on July 12, 2006.

b. The need for full implementation of Resolutions 1559 and 1680
• Over the past two years, and particularly since the start of the recent hostilities, Israel has reiterated the immediate need for full implementation of Resolution 1559, and that this implementation is a condition for ending the hostilities.
• The resolution notes (in preamble paragraph 1 and in operative sections 3, 8 and 10) the need for full implementation of these resolutions, and it also requests that the Secretary General make concrete proposals for their implementation.

c. Strengthening Lebanon and its government, the need to fully control its territory and deployment of the Lebanese army
• Israel stated that the campaign is directed not against Lebanon, but rather against Hizbullah, and that Lebanon is not a party to the dispute. It also stated that, with the end of hostilities, Lebanon must impose its sovereignty over its territory and deploy its army in the south.
• In the resolution, the Security Council commends the Lebanese government for its efforts to impose its sovereignty and its intention to deploy 15,000 soldiers (preamble paragraphs 5 and 8 and operative sections 3, 5 and 8).

d. Release of the kidnapped soldiers
• Israel stated that one of the reasons that led to the outbreak of the fighting, along with the firing of missiles at Israel, was the kidnapping of two IDF soldiers from inside Israeli territory.
• In preamble paragraph 3 of the resolution, the Security Council emphasizes “the need to address urgently the causes that have given rise to the current crisis, including by the unconditional release of the abducted Israeli soldiers.”

e. Disarming Hizbullah and preventing its rearming in the future
• Israel emphasized that one of the results of the conflict must be the disarming of Hizbullah within Lebanese territory, including the missiles in its possession, and the imposition of means that will prevent its rearming in the future.
• The Security Council Resolution explicitly states (in operative section 3) that there may be no weapons in Lebanon without the approval of the government and that in the framework of the future cease-fire agreement between Israel and Lebanon, all the armed groups will be disarmed and there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon except for the government of Lebanon. Moreover, the resolution states, in language taken from resolutions passed in the Security Council under Chapter 7, an arms and ammunition embargo on Lebanon, as well as technical assistance for all the entities that are not the Lebanese army or the armies that make up the UNIFIL force.

f. The need to pass a resolution under Chapter 7 and the UN forces’ authority of enforcement
• Israel aspired to a Security Council resolution under chapter 7, primarily for the purpose of the enforcement authority of the multi-national force. However, Israel requested the right to act freely in the future, without being restricted.
• Ultimately, the Security Council passed a resolution under Chapter 6, which contains binding sections identical to those used in resolutions under Chapter 7. The resolution contains wording characteristic of Security Council resolutions of a binding nature - the last  paragraph of the preamble, immediately preceding the operative part, states that the situation in Lebanon “constitutes a threat to international peace and security.”
In its two key paragraphs, the resolution is worded with language taken from resolutions under Chapter 7: (a) in section 12, the resolution authorizes UNIFIL to implement enforcement measures not previously authorized, and (b) in section 15, the components of the arms embargo are identical to the language of resolutions under Chapter 7.

g. The importance to ensure that no vacuum will be created between the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon and the entrance of the multi-national force
• The need for the absence of this vacuum was at the center of Israel’s demands.
• The resolution explicitly states the order of events in a manner sufficient to prevent such a vacuum (operative sections 1 and 2 explicitly state the need for parallel action: the withdrawal of the IDF alongside the deployment of the Lebanese army and UNIFIL forces, and it requests that UNIFIL verify this process (section 11) ).
UN Secretary-General Annan, in his speech to the Security Council, also spoke of the importance of preventing the creation of a vacuum.

h. A demilitarized buffer zone
• Israel supported the need for a security strip in the area adjacent to its northern border at the end of the conflict.
• The Security Council determined “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” (operative section 8).

i. Preserving Israel’s ability to defend itself
• Israel requested the right to act freely for the purpose of self-defense.
• Operative section 1 of the resolution states, along with the call to Hizbullah to immediately cease its attacks, that Israel must cease offensive military operations, i.e., it reserves the right to act defensively.

5.  Summary

a. Security Council Resolution 1701 serves the interests of Israel and brings it closer to implementing the objectives it set upon embarking on the military campaign. While the resolution does not contain everything that we strove to achieve at the outset, considering the regional realities and the complex situation in Lebanon, and in view of the difficult diplomatic negotiations that were conducted over its wording, it constitutes a good starting point for changing the regional reality in the direction that Israel and Lebanon want to go. The resolution demands the removal of Hizbullah from southern Lebanon, its disarming and the prevention of its rearming. It strengthens the international force in Lebanon and gives it new enforcement authority, and it places an arms embargo on Lebanon. It does not call for the immediate withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon and allows the IDF to act in self-defense in Lebanese territory.

b. Israel expects the international community to take all the measures required to fully and effectively implement the resolution.

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See also
   Israel expresses satisfaciton at adoption of UNSC Resolution 1701
   Hizbullah attacks northern Israel and Israel's response
External links
  US Secy of State Rice: A Path to Lasting Peace (Aug 16, 2006)
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