POLICY Statement

September 03, 2019: ATFL Statement on Rising Tensions Along Lebanon – Israel Boundary Areas

September 03, 2019

Washington, DC, September 03, 2019 (ATFL) – The American Task Force for Lebanon (AFTL), a leadership organization of Americans of Lebanese heritage, calls upon the United States to exert its leadership to bring about a speedy détente between Israel and Lebanon following recent cross-border incidents. Political voices on both sides are abetting an escalation that is in neither country’s interests. The US is the only country that has influence with both parties as well as long-term interests in the stability and security of both.
It is telling that Russia is already asserting its ties with Israel and Lebanon to supplant America’s traditional role in the region. The ATFL believes that it would be a mistake for the US to refrain from public and private communications to restore calm and stability in an area that is too often at the mercy of mercurial local leaders driven by narrow political agendas.
The US government should speak forcefully to remind Lebanese officials to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and enable the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to do its job as the sole guarantor of the country’s security, consistent with the recent Security Council statement renewing the UNIFIL mandate. 
The US government should also speak forcefully to Israel to stop its provocative actions, including overflights of drones and aircraft in clear violation of Lebanese airspace and its sovereignty, and cease steps that jeopardize US mediation of the land and sea boundaries between Lebanon and Israel. Lebanon’s stability and peace in the region should not be subject to considerations driven by political rather than legitimate security needs.
ATFL further calls on Hezbollah and Lebanese political leaders to refrain from statements encouraging actions that undercut Lebanon's sovereignty and the role of the LAF, and that they should focus on counseling restraint among their friends in the region who are endangering Lebanon through their actions.
It is only by solidly supporting the LAF, leveraging the Lebanese government to act as the voice of all the Lebanese people, and reminding Israel that disproportionate responses may lead to ‘unintended consequences’ that make a catastrophic conflict inevitable, that the US can once again demonstrate its leadership and commitment to the security and stability of all of its friends in the region.

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