US dispatches special envoy to ease rising tensions between Israel and Lebanon

White House senior official: ‘There is no clear desire from Hezbollah to go to war with Israel, and vice versa.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

The Biden Administration’s special envoy Amos Hochstein, who was instrumental in securing the Israel-Lebanon maritime border agreement in 2022, has arrived in Israel in an attempt to cool rising tensions with Lebanon and to find a diplomatic solution to the increasing violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

On Wednesday, Hochstein met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib and said the US has “a diplomatic effort underway to help resolve some of the tension” without providing further details.

Israel has said that without an established diplomatic agreement it can’t allow residents of Northern towns to return home, according to a Kan report.

Israeli officials expressed hope that the talks could result in an official border between Israel and Lebanon.

A senior security official told Ynet, “Israel extends its hand for a diplomatic solution, emphasizing that it does not play games.”

They added, “However, any arrangement must include the removal of Hezbollah forces from the border to a distance that prevents immediate threats to northern communities.”

Unresolved areas from Israel’s perspective include Mount Dov, Shebaa Farms, and the village of Ghajar – areas where Lebanon lacks clear ownership claims.

Attempts to negotiate over these areas were interrupted by the war.

An official said the only way Israel can secure implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 requiring Hezbollah to withdraw 8 to 15 meters from the border with Israel is with military pressure until there is a diplomatic agreement in place.

Since the immediate aftermath of the October 7th massacre perpetrated by Hamas on southern towns, Hezbollah has been firing missiles into the north of Israel and residents have been evacuated to the center of the country.

The situation intensified following a strike killing Hamas’s political number two, terror chief Salah al-Arouri, in a Hezbollah stronghold in the southern Beirut suburbs on Tuesday.

After the attack, which was blamed on Israel, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah vowed that any war with Israel would be “without limits.”

However, a senior Biden Administration official told the US press on Wednesday that Lebanon doesn’t want war with Israel.
“I think from everything that we can tell, there is no clear desire from Hezbollah to go to war with Israel, and vice versa,” he said.

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