If proven, Israeli spies have violated Lebanese sovereignty: UN envoy

Other News Materials 9 July 2009 05:57 (UTC +04:00)
If proven, Israeli spies have violated Lebanese sovereignty: UN envoy

If prosecutors are able to prove that Israeli spy networks are operating inside Lebanon, it will constitute a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and undermine Security Council resolutions, a top UN envoy told reporters here on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

"If these allegations are confirmed in court, this would constitute a very serious violation of Lebanon's sovereignty and consequently undermine relevant Security Council resolutions," Michael Williams, the UN special representative for Lebanon, told reporters.

"As special representative of the secretary-general, I am acutely conscious of the great unease and worry that this has caused among Lebanese," he said.

Williams, who called the recent developments "deeply disturbing, " made the comments after briefing the 15-nation Council on Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah in south Lebanon.

Lebanese newspapers have recently reported a wave of arrests based on allegations that Israeli spy networks were operating inside Lebanon.

According to the reports, those detained are suspected of having provided Israel with information about Hezbollah targets and militant leaders, including the current Hezbollah chief, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

Williams told reporters that half of the arrested individuals have been formally charged with spying and are awaiting trial.

The UN mission in Lebanon, known as UNAMIL, has been accused of helping Israeli spies cross from Lebanon into Israel. However, Williams denied the allegations.

"UNIFIL has looked at this very, very seriously," he said. "The allegations that they were facilitating in some way the passage of individuals across the blue line is, I think, without foundation."

Speaking on the limited progress made in the implementation of Resolution 1701, Williams noted that Israeli air violations of the Blue Line continue "unabated and on a daily basis."

He also said that despite some progress in technical talks, no date has been set for a withdrawal of the Israeli Defense Forces from the northern part of the village of Ghajar.

As noted by UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon in his recent report, Israeli officials reaffirmed their commitment to resolve the Ghajar issue but they were not in a position to provide a definitive response since the new government was undertaking a comprehensive policy review.

Last week, the Lebanese Foreign Ministry criticized Ban's report because it "did not consider the Israeli spying networks as a violation of Lebanon's sovereignty," but only said that the alleged networks "could threaten the delicate ceasefire between Lebanon and Israel," according to a statement.