No developments regarding Israeli withdrawal from Ghajar: UN force

12:59, December 31, 2009      

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UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deputy spokesperson said on Wednesday that currently there are no changes regarding Israeli withdrawal from al-Ghajar village.

Andrei Tenenti told Xinhua that the peacekeeping forces has delivered proposals regarding the Israeli withdrawal to both Lebanon and Israel, but they have received no response till now.

"According to UN Resolution 1701, Israel is obliged to withdraw from all territories it occupied north of the Blue Line, including the northern part of al-Ghajar," he added.

In a statement published on Wednesday, Tenenti said "there are no current changes regarding Israeli withdrawal from the village, "but he expressed hope that "a deal about the issue will be reachedsoon."

The UNIFIL statement came a day after local daily An Nahar reported that Israel will pull out of the northern part of the border village by the end of January 2010 following a deal between UNIFIL and Israel.

Well-informed U.S. sources told the local newspaper that the Israeli troops will evacuate from the Lebanese side of the village in accordance with UN Resolution 1701 based on a UNIFIL plan.

Pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat also said on Wednesday that the agreements reached between UNIFIL and Lebanon on one hand and UN peacekeepers and Israel on the other are aimed at keeping al-Ghajar a single entity marked by a "fictitious line."

The newspaper quoted a Lebanese ministerial source as saying that Lebanon was not involved and did not interfere in the UNIFIL-Israel deal. He added that the agreement reached between the Lebanese army and the UN peacekeepers would be referred to the cabinet for approval.

Under the deal, UNIFIL would control the Lebanese side of al-Ghajar pending a final settlement.

Al-Ghajar was considered part of Syria before the six-day war in 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights, which have borders with Lebanon, from Syria in 1967.

Over the years, the village expanded northward into Lebanese territory. In 2000 when the UN drew the Blue Line to demarcate the border between Israel and Lebanon following the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the south, the northern half of the village came under Lebanese control and the southern part remained in Israel's hands.

Israeli troops returned to the northern half of al-Ghajar in the 2006 war against Hezbollah.

Prior to Israel's reoccupation of northern al-Ghajar in the 2006 war, Israel claimed that Hezbollah used the Lebanese side of the village as a base to spy on Israel.

Source: Xinhua
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