Israel Rejects French Plan for Shebaa Farms

[Jerusalem Post ] Yaakov Katz and Herb Keinon - Israeli defense and diplomatic officials warned on Thursday against a new initiative that calls on Jerusalem to hand over the Shebaa Farms area on the Lebanese border to the UN. The proposal is reportedly the brainchild of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who will host a meeting Sunday of the newly-formed Mediterranean Union. "The Shebaa Farms are of vital strategic importance for Israel and therefore have security significance. Handing the land over to the UN means that Hizbullah will be there," a top defense official said Thursday. The official rejected the claim that giving up the area would bolster Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Seniora and deprive Hizbullah of its raison d'etre, saying that after an Israeli withdrawal, Hizbullah would simply find a new excuse for its existence. As if proving this point, a senior Shi'ite religious leader was quoted in the Hizbullah-linked Al-Akhbar newspaper this week as saying that Hizbullah should liberate former Shi'ite villages now in northern Israel. The defense official said the security establishment's recommendation to the political echelon was to relinquish the land only as part of a comprehensive peace deal either with Syria or with Lebanon. Israel completely pulled out of Lebanon when it withdrew its troops in 2000, something the UN also attested to. If Lebanon believes the area is theirs, and not Syria's, then Israel was willing to talk about it with Beirut in direct negotiations.

2008-07-11 01:00:00

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