Israel pushes forward with another ‘victory’ for Hizb Allah

Posted: May 6, 2009 by Jonathan Boyko in Israel, Lebanon, Peace Process, United Nations

ghajarvillagelebanon.jpgISRAELI MILITARY OFFICIALS and their UNIFIL and Lebanese Army counterparts are to meet to discuss Israel’s withdrawal from northern town of Ghajar, on Lebanese territory. The town – currently split right in the middle between Israel and Lebanon – is to be part of sovereign Lebanon.

The meeting at the Rosh Hanikra border crossing will be held on May 18. Representatives at the meeting will include Alan Le Roy, head of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations; Major-General Claudio Graziono, commander of the UN peacekeeping force (UNIFIL) in Lebanon; officers from Israel Defense Forces Northern Command and their Lebanese counterparts.

Lebanese news sources cite President Fouad Siniora, who claims Israel’s talk of withdrawal attempts to shift focus from recent ‘Israeli spy network’ arrests, in which several alleged Israeli agents were arrest on charges of spying for Israel:

Saniora, however, has dismissed the reports as a ploy by Israel to divert attention from spy networks uncovered in Lebanon in recent months.

“This shrewd propaganda by the Israeli press reflects Israeli anger and embarrassment in the face of several Israeli spy networks uncovered by Lebanese security throughout Lebanon,” Siniora said in a statement on Monday.

He added that Israeli media reports that the planned withdrawal was a bid by the Jewish state to boost his government ahead of the June 7 elections were simply a ploy to divide the Lebanese.

“No one will be fooled by these claims,” he said, adding that since the 2006 war Lebanon has been demanding that Israel withdraw from Ghajar unconditionally in line with U.N. ceasefire Resolution 1701.

Siniora, in his turn, attempts to shift focus off his embarrassing performance during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war, which reflected his government’s impotence to deal with Hizb Allah driving Lebanon on collision course with Israel. In addition, Siniora attempts to focus public opinion on Israeli ‘spies’, while agents of one of his parliamentary fractions are arrested in Egypt and Israel.

In the meanwhile, Ghajar residents express no empathy to possible transfer of their village to Lebanon. According to witnesses, Ghajar sees building boom, as many residents, afraid of a possible transfer, believe they will not be able to acquire necessary construction materials in Lebanon:

Ahmed Vanus, a builder and village resident is putting up a house for his sons. He’s been planning it for more than two years, even before the period of uncertainty that began last summer, but the motives for the housing boom are obvious to him. “We have to exploit the opportunity. If they return us to Lebanon, at least we’ll have a house, so we don’t sit in the street,” he says, leaning on the window frame on the second story of the new house. “I don’t need anything fancy, but at least let there be a house. In Lebanon, it’s hard to get cement. It takes a long time.” He’s not building a shelter, just a basement.

According to the United Nations, northern part of the village belongs to Lebanon, while the southern part belongs to Israel. The latter, however, concedes its territory in such deal.

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