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Israel to Press Guterres on Hezbollah’s Armament | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Nikki R. Haley, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, with Secretary General Antonio Guterres, left, in New York. (Credit Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Jerusalem– Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that Israel would pressure UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, during his first visit since he took office, on the armament of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Guterres arrived in Jerusalem Sunday evening to meet with Israeli officials. He will also head to Ramallah and the Gaza Strip to meet with Palestinian leaders, including Prime Minister Rami al-Hamdallah.

Guterres’ visit comes as the Security Council is due to vote on the extension of the UNIFIL mission on 30 January, initially for one year.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has strongly criticized the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah weapons smuggling.

In a statement, Haley said she wanted the international peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon to expand its functions and investigate violations committed by Hezbollah.

“UNIFIL must strengthen its capacity and commitment to investigate and report on these violations,” she noted.

She also criticized the commander of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, accusing him of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s weapons smuggling.

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric has, however, said: “We have full confidence in (the commander’s) work.”

AFP quoted the Israeli deputy foreign minister as saying: “Haley was right… We shall not allow this blindness to continue.”

She stressed that Hezbollah’s deployment along Lebanon’s border with Israel would be a “very central issue” in the discussions with Guterres.

“He will meet the head of military intelligence and receive a briefing, and also meet the prime minister, and I am sure that he will not leave here with the feeling that the mandate given to the UN is being implemented on the ground,” Hotovely said.

Guterres will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will also hold talks with Hamdallah in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.