On Monday, July 15th, 2019, during his visit to the task force ship of UNIFIL at the Port of Beirut, Prime Minister Hariri reaffirmed the commitment of the Lebanese Government to the calling of UN Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 2433.
During that visit, he was briefed on a series of training and joint exercises conducted with the Lebanese Navy in close coordination with UNIFIL.
PM Hariri announced then that he would do his best to have a strategic maritime plan ready to be endorsed by the Lebanese Government before August 31, which is the date of the renewal of the UNIFIL mandate. He explained that this is “a priority to strengthen state security institutions.”
As per PM Hariri, the plan aims at empowering Lebanon’s naval capabilities in order to decrease the UNIFIL’s Maritime Taskforce hence transition the activities to our armed forces (USCR 2433).
It similarly aims at “preserving the country’s sovereignty of maritime territories while fighting against terrorism, human trafficking, illegal immigration, and smuggling of products.”
From his side, Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Stefano Del Col confirmed the support of UNIFIL to the LAF-Navy, considering it “of paramount importance in monitoring territorial waters, securing Lebanese coastline, and preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related materials by sea into Lebanon, as well as ensuring stability in the country.”
PM Hariri assured the UNIFIL that “the Lebanese people are very grateful,” praising the role that UNIFIL has been playing since 2006 in maintaining the calm and peace of the country and in assisting the LAF Navy to enhance their capacities and capabilities.
This maritime plan is a very important step, now that Lebanon is on the verge of starting the exploration of natural gas (December 2019). Lebanon’s PM called for the support of the international community, declaring that “Lebanon’s strong naval capabilities will play a pivotal role in protecting our national oil and gas resources.”