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UN Sec. Council: Shaba Farms are Syrian (JERUSALEM POST) By JPOST.COM STAFF 01/29/05)Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1106882872689 JERUSALEM POST JERUSALEM POST Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
The UN Security Council ruled on Friday that the controversial Shaba Farms along Israel´s northern border belongs to Syria, not to Lebanon.

All 15 Security Council members adopted the proposal, which was drafted by France and co-sponsored by the United States, Britain, Denmark and Greece.

The draft concluded that Israel has fully complied with UN Security Council Resolution 425, which obligated Israel to withdraw to the UN- delineated blue line border.

Russia, Algeria and Lebanon criticized the decision.

In addition, the Security Council extended the mandate for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to remain in Lebanon for an additional six months, until July 31.

The council also advised Secretary-General Kofi Annan to consider a restructuring of the UNIFIL mandate in southern Lebanon. The 2,000- member peacekeeping force has been stationed in southern Lebanon since 1978.

The resolution rebuked Beirut, saying it should "extend and exercise its sole authority in the south," a reference to the control that Hizbullah has in southern Lebanon. The Shi´ite organization has often battled with IDF troops in the Mount Dov area, where the Shaba Farms are located.

Hizbullah claims the Shaba Farms area should have been returned to Lebanon when Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in May 2000, even though the area is part of the region captured by Israel from Syria in the Six Day War.

Since the Israeli pullout the past three years have been the quietest for residents of the confrontation-line communities for several decades.

The Lebanese government, too, perceives Shaba Farms as part of Lebanon. The resolution said the "continually asserted position" by Beirut was "not compatible" with past council resolutions or reports by Annan.

Hizbullah launched a propaganda campaign to win backing for its claim, first and foremost from its Shi´ite constituency and the Lebanese population generally, as well as from the government and, of course, Syria, the controlling power in Lebanon.

It easily succeeded in getting the necessary support, enabling it to continue to function as a military force, thus setting the stage for limited operations to "liberate" the disputed territory.

Anne Patterson, the US acting ambassador, told the council that the biggest impediment to peacekeeping was "the continued specter of armed militias in southern Lebanon, coupled with the Lebanese government´s unwillingness to assert its sole and effective control over all its territory."

Quoted by Reuters, Patterson said that disputed claims to the area were no excuse for allowing Hizbullah to initiate acts of violence along the blue line border. (© 1995-2005, The Jerusalem Post 01/29/05)

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