September 8, 2006
Dear Secretary-General Annan:
The passage of Security Council Resolution 1701 we hope will prove to be a defining moment in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict if the full force of the language and ideals are respected. An end to the violence is a positive first step in creating stability in the region, but the expanded U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) must be able carry out the mission of Security Council Resolution 1701. The mandate and make up of the expanded UNIFIL should be an important process truly bringing about regional stability.
Our concerns lie with the history of mandates for past U.N. peacekeeping forces. The expanded force must have the credibility and respect to carry out the mission set forth in Security Council Resolution 1701. The mandate should include the ability of UNFIL to fully enforce a ban on the delivery of weapons to "any entity or individual" in Lebanon, except for the Lebanese Army. This was a failure of the mandate set in the first mission of UNIFIL, they were to monitor but not stop illegal shipments of arms to militias in Southern Lebanon. Arms shipments to anyone but the Lebanese Army must be stopped by all means possible.
The second of our concerns relates to the members that will make up the expanded UNIFIL. While we understand and support the need to have an expanded diversified force, we remain concerned about the composition of such a force within the international buffer zone. Several of the countries who are actually willing to offer large deployments of troops to the peacekeeping mission do not currently have diplomatic ties with Israel. While we have great respect for nations who offer peacekeepers, the idea of a force made up of well armed members of UNIFIL lacking diplomatic relations with Israel raises concerns to many of us in the United States Congress.
As you know, during a review of U.N. peacekeeping operations in 2000, the U.N. Commission found that the consent of the local parties and impartiality were among the bedrock principles of peacekeeping. For any force to deploy and create the mechanisms for a lasting peace, a strong sense of impartiality whether real or perceived must exist to make this mission a success. While gaining recognition of the State of Israel by all United Nations Member States cannot be achieved immediately, we ask that as you comprise a force to deploy to Lebanon, you also follow up both politically and diplomatically to insure that all member states committing troops move to full recognition of the State of Israel. We trust as you make your decision on the composition of the force, you will keep these legitimate concerns in mind.