Friday, November 22, 2019

Lebanon National Day

Press Statement by Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo
By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 22 November, 2019 
On behalf of the Government of the United States of America, I congratulate the people of Lebanon as they celebrate their Independence Day.  Seventy-six years ago today, Lebanon became a free nation.  Today, the Lebanese people are showing the entire world their commitment to this ideal.  On this occasion, the United States reaffirms its enduring friendship to the Lebanese people.  We remain committed to a brighter future for Lebanon and proudly stand with the Lebanese people in their peaceful demonstrations calling for reforms and an end to corruption.  The United States stands ready to work with a new Lebanese government that is responsive to the needs of its citizens and has the capacity and political will to build a stable, prosperous, independent, and secure Lebanon for all.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

NEA Press Office

The United States welcomes the decision yesterday by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon to establish a second chamber. This is an important step toward accountability and justice for the political assassinations it is investigating. #STL (1/2)

We call on the #Lebanese judiciary and government agencies to fully support the Tribunal's work. (2/2)

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Reps. Zeldin, Luria Lead 241 Members in Urging UN to Stand with Israel and Combat Hezbollah

Nov 18 2019 

Dear Mr. Secretary General,

As Republicans and Democrats, we are united in our concern about the continuing, serious violations of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 and the resulting threat our ally Israel faces on its northern border.

As you know, UNSCR 1701 called upon the Lebanese Government to extend its sovereignty over all of Lebanon and to disarm "all armed groups in Lebanon, so that…there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese State." The resolution also increased the size and mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to help Lebanon secure its border, prevent the unauthorized importation of arms and promote a zone north of the Israel-Lebanon border, "…free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and of UNIFIL…"

After 13 years, Lebanon's attempts to implement this resolution have been unsuccessful. Instead, under the nose of UNIFIL and the international community, Hezbollah has built a murderous capability aimed at Israel's civilian population.  In the thirteen years since the unanimous passage of the Security Council resolution, Hezbollah, with the assistance of Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, has amassed a deadly arsenal of about 150,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel.  Iran is currently exacerbating this threat by transferring precision guided munitions to Hezbollah and building munitions factories in Lebanon for the benefit of the internationally-recognized terrorist organization. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, regularly threatens the people of Israel and, as recently as last month, Hezbollah launched a missile attack on northern Israel.

Hezbollah has also spent tens of millions of dollars to develop an underground attack capability. Last year, Israel exposed six terror tunnels that crossed from southern Lebanon into Israel. Hezbollah built these tunnels to enable armed Hezbollah terrorists to enter Israeli towns to kidnap and kill civilians. 

The United Nations Security Council spoke out clearly and unanimously by passing UNSCR 1701. In doing so, the international community committed itself to Lebanese sovereignty and Israeli security. Hezbollah's military build-up threatens both. We believe Beirut must address the Hezbollah challenge on an urgent basis. Continued failure to do so weakens Lebanon's relationship with the international community and increases the threats to the Lebanese People and Israel's security. 

We also urge you, Mr. Secretary, to assist Lebanon's Prime Minister and President to finally reclaim Lebanese sovereignty and implement all the terms of UNSCR 1701, including allowing UNIFIL to fulfill its mandate in southern Lebanon. At the same time, we request that you insist that UNIFIL fully implement its mandate despite pressure from Hezbollah. UNIFIL should accurately report on Hezbollah violations of UNSCR 1701 and work with the Government of Lebanon to remove Hezbollah's weapons from the south.  

It should be evident to all that Israel faces a growing threat from Hezbollah's missile arsenal.  No country can tolerate a terrorist organization on its border acquiring the capability to endanger its population. Israel has the right to defend itself and will have the full bipartisan support of the United States if it must act to protect its citizens.

Furthermore, in light of recent events, we recognize major steps will have to be taken by Lebanon's political leadership to address deep popular concerns about economic instability, governance, and corruption. We therefore urge the UN to continue efforts to ensure the government of Lebanon remains independent and fully sovereign.

We urge you, Mr. Secretary, to lead an international effort to limit Hezbollah's capabilities and to avoid the devastating but avoidable outcome of which you have previously warned.  We fear significant civilian costs in Lebanon if Israel must act to defend its citizens because Hezbollah has positioned its massive arsenal in civilian areas – turning much of Lebanon's population into human shields. Hezbollah will bear the responsibility for that, as will the Government of Lebanon and the international community.

We look forward to the opportunity to discuss this and other issues with you in the near future.