Report: Israel ready to evacuate Ghajar, Shebaa Farms
London-based al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reports UNIFIL commander promised Defense Minister Barak that northern part of disputed Golan Heights village will be subject to peacekeepers' control. 'Withdrawing from Shebaa Farms will pull the rug from under Nasrallah's legs,' Israeli official quoted as saying
Is Israel's northern border about to change? According to Lebanese reports quoted by Arab media outlets Tuesday, Israel is willing to withdraw from the northern part of the disputed village of Ghajar and Shebaa Farms located on the international border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights.
The London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported that Jerusalem recently conveyed a message to Washington, stating that Israel is ready to leave Ghajar after receiving a written guarantee from the Beirut government, through the UNIFIL headquarters, that the area will be controlled by the United Nations peacekeepers in terms of security and administration.
According to a Lebanese source, UNIFIL Commander General Claudio Graziano held a series of meetings with senior Israeli officials and managed to convince them that Lebanon is serious about the matter and that his organization is committed to it.
Two weeks ago, the message was relayed in an official letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The issue was partially reported by Israeli media outlets earlier this week, and has now been confirmed by Lebanese officials as well.
UNIFIL Spokeswoman Yasmina Bouzianne said that the proposal raised is still under discussion. She expressed her hope that the sides would reach an understanding soon.
According to the report, Beirut hopes that the withdrawal from Ghajar will serve as a preceding step to another pullout, this time from the Shebaa Farms – the main bone of contention between Israel and Hizbullah.
"Evacuating Shebaa will pull the rug from under (Hibzullah Secretary-General Hassan) Nasrallah's legs, and will make his excuses to continue the 'resistance' for the sake of Lebanon's interests lose their meaning," an Israeli source was quoted as saying.
"If this area is handed over, it will be clear to the Lebanese that Hizbullah's excuses are aimed at disguising its main goals, in the service of global terror and Iranian interests," the source concluded.