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Entrance to Ghajar
Photo: Avihu Shapira
Report: US pressing Israel to withdraw from Ghajar
Official tells Al-Hayat withdrawal from disputed areas can 'remove Hezbollah's pretext for bearing arms'

A US official told the London-based Al-Hayat Saturday that the Obama administration was pressing Israel to withdraw its presence from Ghajar, situated on the Israeli-Lebanese border, and hand control to UN forces.

 

He said the US was using diplomatic means to "urge Israel to withdraw from the village and other disputed areas, in order to remove from the hands of Hezbollah the pretext for bearing arms"

 

In addition the paper reported that Lebanese President Michel Suleiman is expected in Washington later Saturday for his first official visit to the White House.

 

Suleiman is scheduled to meet US President Barack Obama on Monday, the report said, in order to discuss US support for his country's official institutions.

 

On Friday 1,800 residents of Ghajar protested against an as yet unofficial decision to divide the village and hand over its northern section to UN control. The demonstrators marched through both sections of the village in protest of the plan.

 

Council and residents spokesman, Najib Khatib, told Ynet that the residents are determined to prevent the division of their village and UN entry into the village. "We are prepared to die, but this division will not come to be," he said.

 

Unconfirmed reports published earlier this week said the IDF would withdraw from northern Ghajar by the end of January. Last month, a Lebanese newspaper reported that Israel "is prepared to withdraw from the village within a matter of hours."

 

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