Delivered By: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Madam President,

The fact is, tensions on the Blue Line are at a level unseen since the 2006 war.

Over the past year, on a daily basis, Hezbollah has been making a mockery of Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 1559.

It has erected concrete military outposts and observation towers; conducted military drills with live fire; and prevented UNIFIL’s freedom of movement while brazenly attacking peacekeeping forces.

It has also actively perpetuated Lebanon’s myriad crises, obstructed the investigation into the devastating Beirut Port explosion, and paralyzed key institutions of the State.

These extremely inflammatory actions threaten a dangerous escalation in our region.

That is why the UAE worked hard with the penholder and Council Members in extensive negotiations to ensure that UNIFIL’s mandate addresses developments on the ground that strike at the core of UNIFIL’s ability to fulfil that mandate.

And UNIFIL continues to face challenges to its freedom of movement and the lack of access to locations of interest, as reported by the Secretary-General of the UN. As such, we sought to improve the text to better address these challenges and to support UNIFIL’s efforts to maintain calm and stability in South Lebanon and the entire region.

We therefore welcome the clear language added to the text on the independence of UNIFIL. The text calls on the Government of Lebanon to facilitate UNIFIL’s prompt and full access to sites requested by UNIFIL, including to “all locations of interest”. We underscore that the Government of Lebanon must meet its responsibilities with regards to UNIFIL’s freedom of movement, which it has been failing to do on several occasions.

While we would have liked to have seen no ambiguity in paragraph 15 as in Resolution 2650, let us be clear that the text of paragraph 15 simply recognizes what the SOFA foresees with regards to coordination for large movements of troops. In no way can it be interpreted or misused to delay, hinder, or restrict UNIFIL’s freedom of movement or ability to operate independently.

We’re also pleased that for the first time and at the request of the United Arab Emirates, the resolution has specifically addressed the need for UNIFIL to access unauthorized firing ranges. UNIFIL’s clear freedom of movement is further affirmed by the unambiguous language in paragraph 16 which makes it clear that announced and unannounced patrols should not be restricted or hindered.

We thank the penholder, France, for their positive engagement with our proposals and their reflection of them in the final text. Accordingly, the UAE voted in favor of the resolution.

However, we are disappointed with the needless compromise to remove the unqualified reference to the Israeli occupation of Al-Ghajar, which was in previous drafts and, we think, enjoyed widespread support in this Council.

We would also have preferred clear references to the increasing obstacles hampering UNIFIL’sfreedom of movement and its ability to reach all important sites, including areas where containers are placed by the Hezbollah-affiliated Green Without Borders. The language around locations of interest should help UNIFIL monitor this activity more closely in the future.

The UAE also fails to understand the hesitation to name Hezbollah and its group, who are actively undermining  UNIFIL’s ability to conduct its mandate within its areas of operation.

No amount of accommodation will change the fact that the pursuit of progress in Lebanon through partnership with Hezbollah has only yielded disappointment and misery, not least of all for the people of Lebanon.

We also condemn the agendas aimed at silencing voices calling for peace in Lebanon while providing platforms to hostile voices who seek to undermine its security and stability.

The UAE has always been and remains committed to supporting Lebanon’s security and stability. 17 years ago, the UAE was closely involved in regional and international efforts to bring the war between Israel and Hezbollah to an end, not least by helping to convey the regional point of view to this Council. Today, we continue this role by putting the interests of the people of Lebanon and the entire region first and foremost. We look forward to the day when Lebanon can move steadily towards stability, reform, peace, and development.

Thank you, Madam President, and as this is your last session, I wish to join others in congratulating you and your team for a successful presidency and wish Albania all the best next month.