The United Nations agreed with Israel that the area is not covered by United Nations UN Security Council Resolution 425, which governed the withdrawal from Lebanon, inasmuch as the Farms are not Lebanese territory, and the UN certified Israel's pullout. At the same time the UN noted that its decision was "without prejudice to future border agreements between the Member States concerned," referring to Israel, Syria, and Lebanon.
The UN stated:
"On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government's position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defense and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic."
In a June 18, 2000 statement, the Security Council noted that Israel and Lebanon had confirmed to the Secretary General, that identification of the withdrawal line was solely the responsibility of the UN and that both sides would respect the line as identified. Moreover, the Security Council took note, "with serious concern," of reports of violations - by Hezbollah - that had occurred since June 16, 2000, and called upon the parties to respect the line drawn by the United Nations.
On a fact-finding visit to the region, Terje Rød-Larsen, the UN special envoy to the Middle East, noted that the 1923 Anglo-French demarcation and the 1949 Armistice line clearly designated the area as Syrian territory.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in remarks to the press with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Foreign Minister of Spain Josep Pique, Foreign Minister of Russia Igor Ivanov, and European Union Senior Official Javier Solana in Madrid, Spain, on April 10, 2002, said:
"With reference to the disturbances along the Blue Line emanating from Lebanese territory, I call on the Government of Lebanon and all relevant parties to condemn and prevent such violations. The Security Council itself confirmed in June 2000 that Israel had withdrawn from southern Lebanon in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions 425 and 426. Attacks at any point along the Blue Line, including in the Shebaa Farms area in the occupied Golan Heights, are violations of Security Council resolutions. Respect for decisions of the Security Council is the most basic requirement of international legitimacy."
More recently, the January 20, 2005 UN Secretary-General's report on Lebanon stated rather emphatically:
"The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel's withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Government of Lebanon should heed the Council's repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety."
The BBC quoted Timur Goskel, a spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) as saying that "no-one disputed that the village of Shebaa itself was in Lebanon, but most of the farms fell into an undefined area that may be either in Lebanon or Syria" and although the UN was not a "boundary marking authority [...] on all maps the UN has been able to find, the farms are seen on the Syrian side [of the border].
*** End Quote ****
But now we read: Israel refuses to open talks with Lebanon over Shaba Farms
What is it about:
Israel has refused a recommendation by a United Nations ambassador to begin negotiations with Lebanon over the disputed Shaba Farms area. According to the envoy, Geir Pedersen, the United Nations is becoming increasingly convinced that Shaba Farms belongs to Lebanon.
During a meeting recently with Amos Gilad, the head of the Political-Military Bureau at the Defense Ministry, Pedersen said that "the UN believes that there is merit in the Lebanese claims of sovereignty over Shaba Farms."
The Norwegian diplomat stressed it would be beneficial if Israel initiated negotiations over this issue.
....During his meeting with Gilad, the UN envoy noted that the evidence boosts the Lebanese claims. Pedersen said it may be advisable for Israel to agree to separate negotiations with the government of Lebanon on the Shaba Farms to resolve the issue.
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