Skip to main content

Hezbollah says UNIFIL mandate will remain 'ink on paper' without change

The paramilitary group is objecting to the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission over last year's modification that gave the mission freedom of movement in southern Lebanon without coordination with the army.
ALI DIA/AFP via Getty Images

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement warned on Monday against the renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission patrolling the border with Israel under the terms agreed to last year.

Last year, the UN Security Council renewed the annual mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with a slight modification allowing the peacekeeping forces to operate “independently” without prior coordination with the Lebanese army or the government.

Hezbollah strongly criticized the modification at the time as a “violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”

The Security Council is meeting on Wednesday to vote on renewing the peacekeeping force’s mandate ahead of its Aug. 31 expiry. Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib is currently in New York, where he is reportedly trying to convince UN member states not to approve the mission’s mandate without modifying last year’s provisions.

In a televised speech on Monday evening, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah reiterated his movement’s rejection of the modified text. If the mission under the current terms is renewed, it will remain “ink on paper” he said, adding that the people of the region will "not allow its implementation."

UNIFIL has been patrolling the border with Israel since its establishment in 1978 following the withdrawal of Israeli forces that briefly invaded Lebanon. The mission has been amended several times over the years. In 2006, the UN Security Council strengthened UNIFIL’s mandate following the war that Israel and Hezbollah fought for more than a month. Today, some 10,500 peacekeeping forces patrol the area.

Hezbollah has accused UNIFIL of spying for Israel. Tensions occasionally arise between the mission and residents of southern Lebanon, a Hezbollah stronghold. Last December, an Irish peacekeeper was killed there when two UNIFIL armored vehicles came under fire. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in the incident.

Nasrallah’s latest warning comes amid heightened tensions with Israel. Most recently in June, Israel accused Hezbollah of placing tents of militants in a disputed area in the south known as Shebaa Farms. Earlier this month, Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned that his country “will return Lebanon to the stone age” should Hezbollah start a war.

The Hezbollah chief's speech also coincides with the start of offshore gas exploration in Lebanese waters. A consortium of international oil giants comprising France’s TotalEnergies, Italy’s ENI and Qatar’s QatarEnergy began operations last week in Block 9, located in the eastern Mediterranean about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Beirut.

Exploration in Block 9 had been repeatedly delayed due to a maritime border dispute between Israel and Lebanon, which technically remain at war. A landmark maritime border deal mediated by the United States was reached between the two countries last year, paving the way for offshore energy exploration by the energy-starved country.

Meanwhile, local news outlets reported that US special envoy Amos Hochstein will travel Wednesday to Beirut, where he is expected to meet with officials, including caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and military commander Gen. Joseph Aoun. The local al-Anbaa news site cited sources as saying that Hochstein will address the border tensions and the start of offshore exploration. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in