x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Israel to pull out from Lebanese border village: report

Israel reportedly plans to withdraw troops from part of disputed Lebanese village of Ghajar and hand over control to the United Nations.

JERUSALEM // Israel is planning withdraw its troops from part of a disputed village on the Lebanese border and hand over control to the United Nations peacekeeping force deployed there, Israeli media reported on Sunday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will inform UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon about the planned move when the two meet in New York on Monday, a government official told the Haaretz newspaper.

Plans to withdraw from the northern sector of Ghajar village were recently discussed with senior officials from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, which is deployed along the border to keep the peace between the two sides.

The village, which has around 2,200 residents, lies on the borders of Lebanon, Syria and the Golan Heights, which Israel seized from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in 1981 in a move never recognised by the international community.

Netanyahu is planning to present the proposal to his political-security cabinet when he returns to Israel following his five-day trip to the United States.

An Israeli pullout from the northern half of the village would complete its withdrawal from Lebanon as called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 war between Israel and Hizbollah.

The northern part of Ghajar is in Lebanon and the rest lies in the Golan Heights.

The villagers were Syrian nationals when Israel occupied the region, but they took Israeli nationality when the Golan was annexed.

In 2000, when the United Nations demarcated the border, Ghajar's northern half was allocated to Lebanese control, but it was retaken by Israel during the 2006 war.

Most Ghajar villagers are against repartitioning the village, which would leave 1,700 people in the Lebanese part and 500 on the Israeli side.

Syria has always demanded the full return of the strategic Golan Heights in any peace deal.