UNIFIL: Israel informed UN Secretary-General of its willingness to discuss withdraw from Lebanese al-Ghajar
An official of United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said on Tuesday that Israel informed the UN Secretary-General of its willingness to discuss withdrawal of its troops from al-Ghajar village, Xinhua reported.
UNIFIL Director of Political and Civil Affairs Milos Strugar stressed in a press conference held in South Lebanon's Tyre, that the issue of Israeli withdrawal from the northern part of al- Ghajar village is not a "topic for public discussion," one day after denying being informed that Israel decided to withdraw from the village.
Strugar said that Israel was obliged to withdraw from al-Ghajar under Resolution 1701, that ended a 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, confirming that Israel informed the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon of its willingness to discuss withdrawal, without mentioning any exact date.
Strugar said the situation in al-Ghajar was unique, as the border between Israel and Lebanon runs through the middle of the village.
Strugar hoped that Israel would deliver shortly an official response "in the right direction" that guarantees the withdrawal of the Israeli army from al-Ghajar.
Strugar's announcement, which was carried by local Naharnet news website, came after Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported on Monday that the Israeli government decided to work toward a withdrawal from the northern part of the village of al-Ghajar on the border with Lebanon, and the decision will be announced after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Israel has been told by the United States and the UN that the Lebanese government has been established, Israel's withdrawal from al-Ghajar will help bring stability to the northern border and strengthen moderate camp in Lebanon, Ha'aretz added.
Al-Ghajar was considered part of Syria before the 6-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 determine the final 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. Israeli troops returned to the northern half of Ghajar in the 2006 war against Hezbollah.
Prior to Israel's reoccupation of northern Ghajar in the 2006 war, Israel claimed that Hezbollah used the Lebanese side of the village as a base to spy on Israel, and Hezbollah had tried to attack Israeli soldiers from the area.