In a surprise move, on May 24, 2000, the IDF unilaterally pulled back from southern Lebanon to the international border, known as the Blue Line, in compliance with UN Security Council Resolution 425. A few weeks later, former-UN secretary-general Kofi Annan officially confirmed that the withdrawal met the Security Council’s demands. That approval happened 21 years ago today. Resolution 425 “called upon Israel to cease its military action against Lebanese territorial integrity and withdraw forthwith its forces from all Lebanese territory,” according to the UN.
It also established the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with the purpose of “confirming the withdrawal of Israeli forces, restoring international peace and security, and assisting the Government of Lebanon in ensuing the return of its effective authority in the area.”
The resolution had originally been drafted in 1978, but it had only been implemented 22 years later.
The resolution’s initial intention was to stop the cycle of bloody violence between the PLO and the IDF in northern Israel and southern Lebanon, which began in March 1978.
However, the First Lebanon War broke out four years later in 1982, and Israel remained entrenched in southern Lebanon for the following 18 years. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers died during this period in terrorist attacks and accidental military catastrophes, as well as in standard on-the-ground operations. Intense public and international pressure finally led to then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s decision to pull back.
The 2000 withdrawal finally enabled the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 425, much later than any of its members envisioned.