A UN resolution urging Israel to pay compensation to Lebanon in the amount of over $850 million was met with an angry response from the Israel UN mission on Friday. The resolution, which is not legally binding, refers to an oil spill incident in 2006, which occurred during a 34-day conflict between Hezbollah and Israel. The conflict began when Hezbollah staged a raid from Lebanon into Israel – capturing two Israeli soldiers and killing three. Five more reportedly died in the rescue attempt that followed.
In response to the raid, Israel mounted extensive air and sea assaults across Lebanon – ultimately killing over 1,000 people and destroying a coastal power station with Israeli jets. This attack caused an estimated 15,000 tons of oil to spill into the Mediterranean Sea. The slick stretched for 120 km along the Lebanese coast, reaching as far as Syria, and causing vast environmental damage. BBC News reports that although requests for compensation have been made to Israel before, this is the first time a specific monetary figure has been included.
The resolution follows a report in August by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, which examined the damage caused by the spill and estimated its value in the current economic climate. During the session, the General Assembly also stressed the need for relevant organizations to examine and quantify the damage caused to neighboring nations. Among the wording of the resolution – which characterizes the spill as an "environmental disaster" - was the opinion of the Secretary-General, with respect to the actions of Israel since the spill occurred.
"The Secretary-General expressed grave concern at the lack of any acknowledgement on the part of the government of Israel of its responsibilities vis-à-vis reparations and compensation."
Following the passing of the resolution, Israel's UN mission made clear its response in a statement, as reported by the Associated Press.
"Israel immediately responded to the oil slick incident by cooperating closely with the United Nations Environment Programme, as well as other UN agencies and NGOs, addressing the environmental situation along the coast of Lebanon. This resolution has long outlived the effects of the oil slick and serves no purpose other than to contribute to institutionalising an anti-Israel agenda at the UN."
The Times of Israel reports that the Israeli UN mission further expressed accusations of bias in the examinations conducted by the UN.
"The UN never bothered to check what the war cost Israel in damages, and did not mention that the war broke out in response to the operation by the terror group Hezbollah."
The non-binding UN resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority of 170 nations, with only six voting against it, and three abstaining. Those voting against its passing were the United States, Canada, Australia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands. and Israel.
[Image via The Independent]