UN Security Council Condemns Killing of Spanish Peacekeeper in Southern Lebanon

Russia blocks French-drafted statement that also condemned Hezbollah attack that killed two Israeli soldiers, labeling it 'unbalanced.'

The Associated Press
The Associated Press
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AP - The UN Security Council on Wednesday condemned "in the strongest terms" last week's killing of a Spanish peacekeeper in southern Lebanon.

Wednesday's statement comes a week after Cpl. Francisco Javier Soria Toledo was killed during the Israeli military's exchange of fire with the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group in a disputed border area.

A Spanish U.N. peacekeeper in an armored vehicle patrols the Lebanese-Israeli border, Lebanon, January 29, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Spain's UN ambassador quickly blamed Israel, and a UN diplomat has said Israel apologized through several sources, including an apology from its ambassador in Madrid to Spain's foreign minister.

The violence along Lebanon's border, which also killed two Israeli soldiers, was the deadliest escalation on the disputed frontier since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

Israel's ambassador quickly pointed out that the council statement didn't mention the Israeli soldiers or condemn Hezbollah. "The Security Council seems to think that some lives have more value than others," Ron Prosor said in an emailed statement.

A council diplomat said Russia blocked a French-drafted press statement on Tuesday that would have condemned the Hezbollah attack on the Israeli soldiers as a violation of the resolution that ended the 2006 war as well as the death of the Spanish peacekeeper, saying it was "unbalanced."

The blocked statement, supported by Spain and many other council members, also expressed grave concern over the deterioration of the situation along both sides of the so-called Blue Line separating Lebanon and Israel, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions were closed.

Also Wednesday, a senior UN official said a UN technical investigation on the ground, to determine the facts of what happened in the violence, should be completed in the next three days. The UN is also launching a board of inquiry to look into the wider aspects of the incident.