How France is trying to defuse a potential Israel-Hezbollah war

French foreign minister to visit Israel as part of ongoing French-American efforts to prevent further escalation with Lebanese terror group on Israel's northern border

The French delegation including senior officials who held talks in Israel in attempts to find a solution to prevent a military confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon returned to Paris over Saturday. In Israel, discussions are now underway in anticipation of the upcoming visit of French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
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The French delegation met with Foreign Ministry’s Director-General Ronen Levi (Maoz) and the Defense Ministry’s Political-Military Bureau Brig. Gen. (res.) Boaz Dror Shalom, among others. An Israeli official said France is treating the issue seriously, conveying various messages, and working to find a solution.
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שרת החוץ של צרפת קתרין קולונה
שרת החוץ של צרפת קתרין קולונה
Catherine Colonna
(Photo: Frederick FLORIN / AFP)
The official added that Israel made it clear to the French that in the absence of a proper solution, all options would remain on the table, including a military operation against Hezbollah. Israel demands the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, including the removal of Hezbollah forces to 40 km from the border.
While this step may not eliminate the threat of missiles launched against Israel, it would dramatically reduce the threat of infiltration and provide the necessary security for northern residents to return to their homes.
As for Hezbollah’s incentive to accept the solution, a senior Israeli official said that the full implementation and enforcement of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 would ensure that no military operation would take place on the northern front.
Hezbollah welcomes the continued tension but isn’t interested in a military confrontation with the heavy toll that Lebanon would pay in such a scenario. "It seems Hezbollah is always looking for a reason to fight," the senior official said. "When they signed the gas agreement with us, Israel agreed because it thought it would bring calm to the region, which wasn’t the case."
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חסן נסראללה
חסן נסראללה
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah
(Photo: Al-Manar via REUTERS)
The U.S., via Biden's special envoy to the Middle East Amos Hochstein, is looking to provide additional incentives to the Lebanese. Among the ideas raised was providing economic incentives to the Lebanese economy, which is currently struggling. Hochstein is also exploring ideas to settle the issue of the land border between the countries, but as of now, Israel says it's not certain that such an agreement can be reached.
As part of these efforts, France’s envoy to Lebanon, Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Lebanon along with the head of the French military intelligence. Both had meetings with senior officials in the Lebanese government as well as Hezbollah representatives.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday and the two discussed the situation in Lebanon. Macron expressed support for the full implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and mentioned France's efforts to ensure that Iran and its proxies distance themselves from the war.
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פגישת ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם נשיא צרפת, עמנואל מקרון, בביקורו בישראל בעקבות המלחמה
פגישת ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו עם נשיא צרפת, עמנואל מקרון, בביקורו בישראל בעקבות המלחמה
Emmanuel Macron and Benjamin Netnayahu
(Photo: Kobi Gideon, GPO)
Macron expressed France's commitment to Israel's security and reiterated Paris's solidarity in its fight against terrorism. Macron emphasized that the release of all Israeli hostages still held in Gaza, including four French nationals, is a top priority for France.
Additionally, the two discussed the situation in Gaza. Macron reiterated the need to protect civilians in the Strip and stressed the importance of achieving a long-term cease-fire. Until then, the French president said, it’s crucial for the population in Gaza to receive the necessary aid.
Macron also highlighted that Israel must take the necessary steps to put an end to violent incidents carried out by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.
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