Shebaa Farms (Archive)
Sarkozy with Suleiman in Beirut
"Hizbullah is not oppsoed to the release of the Shebaa Farms by diplomatic means," Lebanese sources quoted Hizbullah Parliament Member Mohammad Raad as saying to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, currently visiting the region, also assessed the issue as close to reaching its solution.
London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported on the talks conducted by Sarkozy with a number of Lebanese officials in Lebanon. According to the report, his longest meeting was with Raad. During their discussion, the French leader asked Raad whether he believes the Shebaa Farms could be released through diplomatic procedures, and the latter gave a positive answer.
The Shebaa Farms are a piece of land located on the Israel-Syria-Lebanon border, on the western slopes of Mount Dov. The territory was captured by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967, and since the end of the First Lebanon War the area has been a source of conflict between the two countries.
Lebanese sources reported that the subject of the Shebaa Farms also came up in talks between Sarkozy and newly elected Lebanese President Michel Suleiman, as well as Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Suleiman said that Israel's ceding from the territory would lead to the planning of a new defense strategy within Lebanon.
The sources added that Sarkozy planned to bring the issue up during his upcoming visit to Israel on June 21. The French president plans to promote an initiative by which the territory would be transferred to UN control, after which the parts belonging to Lebanon would be marked and returned to the country's domain.
The British foreign secretary also met recently with Lebanese officials, and called on them to send documented proof to the UN claiming the Shebaa Farms as part of the country's territory. During his meeting with Suleiman, Miliband said Britain would renew its ties with the new Lebanese government once it is formed, including Hizbullah. Miliband is expected in Israel later on Monday.