United States Blocks UN Statement on Israel-Hezbollah Fire, Diplomats Say

According to the UN diplomats, the United States objected to the statement's failure to condemn Hezbollah and its 'moral equivalence' between Israel and the militant group

Spanish UN peacekeepers patrolling along the Lebanese-Israeli border pass a Hezbollah flag, in the southern Lebanese village of Kfar Kila, Lebanon, September 2, 2019.
Hussein Malla,AP

The United States has blocked the U.N. Security Council from issuing a statement following the recent exchange of cross-border fire between the militant group Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Israeli forces in Israel, diplomats said Thursday.

The initial draft of the French-proposed council statement, obtained by The Associated Press, would have condemned "all violations of the Blue Line," which is the U.N.-drawn dividing line between the two countries.

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Hezbollah militants on Sunday fired a barrage of anti-tank missiles into Israel, prompting a reprisal of heavy Israeli artillery fire in a rare burst of fighting between the bitter enemies who fought a monthlong war in 2006. The shooting quickly subsided without casualties on either side, but the situation remains volatile.

The proposed council statement urged all parties "to exercise maximum calm and restraint" and refrain from rhetoric that could jeopardize the cessation of hostilities agreed to by Israel and Lebanon after the 2006 conflict.

The U.N. diplomats, who insisted on anonymity because they were revealing negotiations that were supposed to be private, said the United States objected to the statement's failure to condemn Hezbollah and its "moral equivalence" between Israel and the militant group.

A U.S. Mission statement said: "Our diplomatic negotiations are confidential and we are unable to discuss the details of closed door negotiations."