US might mediate Lebanon-Israel border dispute: White House adviser

Amos Hochstein said it was ‘natural’ to resolve the issue after the 2022 delineation of the maritime border.

A Lebanese army vehicle drives in Khiam
There has been tension at the border between Lebanon and Israel over recent months [File: Aziz Taher/Reuters]

The United States may get involved in mediating the end of a border dispute between Lebanon and Israel that has caused tensions cross-border violence in recent months, a senior White House adviser has said.

At the end of a two-day visit to Lebanon on Thursday, Amos Hochstein said it was “natural” to resolve the issue, building on the 2022 delineation of the maritime border between the two countries.

The senior White House adviser said he visited southern Lebanon during his trip “to understand and learn more about what is needed to be able to potentially achieve an outcome”.

“It is time for me to hear from the other side, and to make an assessment if this is a right time,” he said.

The maritime border delineation has led to Lebanon beginning offshore exploration activities last week.

The land demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel is known as the Blue Line, a border that the United Nations marked when Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after an occupation that began during the Lebanese Civil War in 1982.

The past few months have seen spikes of violence at the border, with rockets fired at Israel after Israeli attacks against Palestinians, and forces belonging to the Lebanese Shia Muslim Hezbollah group fighting with Israeli forces.

The village of Ghajar has been at the centre of the tension. It is divided by the Blue Line between Lebanon and Israel, but the latter has occupied the whole village since 2006, and Lebanese officials have said that Israel has been building a wall around the whole town.

Israel has complained to the UN about military-style tents that Hezbollah has erected near Ghajar.

Lebanon’s caretaker foreign minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, said solving the border dispute could ease these tensions.

UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL has hosted meetings between Lebanon, Israel and the United Nations on the issue.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies