Israel May Exit Lebanon Border Village Within Weeks, UN Says

Israel may withdraw “in the coming weeks” from the northern part of a former Syrian village on the border with Lebanon, said Michael Williams, United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon.

Williams noted in an e-mailed statement today “the possibility that the Israelis will withdraw from the Lebanese part of the village, will withdraw their soldiers, in the coming weeks.”

Israel’s Security Cabinet gave preliminary approval on Nov. 17 for a withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar.

A UN resolution that ended fighting between Israel and the Lebanese Shiite Muslim Hezbollah in 2006 urged Israel to withdraw its army.

Israel captured the Golan Heights village of Ghajar from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War. In subsequent years, the village grew northward into Lebanese territory. The expansion became an issue after Israel in 2000 withdrew its troops from a swath of territory it had been occupying in south Lebanon and the UN delineated the Israeli-Lebanon border which runs through the village.

Throughout negotiations over the withdrawal, Israel has sought guarantees that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah won’t be allowed to take control of the northern part of the village.

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