Beirut, Feb 8 (IANS) The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed on Wednesday that Israel has begun to construct a controversial wall along its border with Lebanon.
“We are in contact with the parties on both sides of the border to resolve this issue and prevent any tension or escalation,” UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said in a statement carried by the National News Agency (NNA), Xinhua reported.
Tenenti added that the peacekeeping force is “fully engaged with both parties in order to find common solutions”.
Lebanese and Israeli military officials had attended regular UN-sponsored talks on the border on Monday.
Tenenti said both parties demonstrated their commitment to preserve stability.
Israel has in recent days escalated its threats against Lebanon over Lebanon’s invitation for offshore gas exploration bids on the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has described as “very provocative” Lebanon’s exploration tender and suggested that Lebanon had put out invitations for bids from international groups for a gas field “which is by all accounts ours.”
His comments drew sharp condemnation from Lebanese officials. Prime Minister Saad Hariri described Lieberman’s comments as a “blatant provocation that Lebanon rejects.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council instructed the country’s military to confront Israel if it goes ahead with plans to build the controversial border wall, labelling it as an “aggression” against Lebanese sovereignty.