Israel’s Security Cabinet decided today, Wednesday November 19th, to accept, in principle, the proposal of the UN and the UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon) Commander, to completely withdraw IDF personnel from the northern section of the town of Ghajar.
Ghajar, whose community consists mostly of Syrian Alawites with dual Israeli-Syrian citizenships, is a town which happens to fall right on the border between Israel and Lebanon, the so-called “Blue-Line.” The Blue-Line is a border demarcation established to determine Israel’s withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 as mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 425. Ghajar is united, and does not have a physical barrier or fence marking the Blue Line i.e. where Lebanon ends and Israel begins.
As northern Ghajar is the last area that the IDF has personnel stationed, Israel’s decision to remove troops from that section of the town will be an important step towards supporting a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.
According to UN Resolution 1701, passed after the 2006 war against Hezbollah forces operating on the Lebanese border, Lebanon is required to, among other things, respect the Blue Line and prevent the passage of weapons into the hands of Hezbollah terrorists.
The Security Cabinet authorized the Foreign Ministry to complete the details of the temporary arrangement in coordination with the UN and UNIFIL Commander General Alberto Asarta as soon as possible. Both the security of Israel’s citizens and the normal life of the residents of Ghajar, which remains undivided, will continue to be maintained while the new arrangements are being put in place. The final agreement will be brought to the Security Cabinet for approval before it is implemented.
U.S. State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley “welcomes the announcement today by Israel’s Security Cabinet that it accepts in principle the proposal offered by the UNIFIL Force Commander, providing for the complete withdrawal of Israeli military forces from Lebanese territory in and around the village of Ghajar.”
He went on to say in a prepared statement that “the United States encourages Israel and the UN to complete the technical details necessary to implement this proposal rapidly and thereby protect the rights of the affected civilians and further the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 (2006), which aims for a permanent ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon.”