Hochstein in Beirut to reach diplomatic solution for the Israel-Lebanon border tension

Hochstein in Beirut to reach diplomatic solution for the Israel-Lebanon border tension

Shafaq News / U.S. presidential envoy Amos Hochstein on Thursday held talks in Beirut over the explosive situation on the Lebanese-Israeli border and the possibility of reaching a diplomatic solution.

During a meeting with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail, Hochstein stressed “the need to work on pacifying the situation in south Lebanon even if it is not possible to reach an agreement on a final solution at the moment,” state-run National News Agency reported.

He also called for “working on a temporary middle-ground solution to avoid a descent into a worse situation,” NNA said.

Mikati for his part emphasized that “the priority should be for ceasing fire in Gaza and halting the Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the repeated violations of Lebanese sovereignty.”

“We want peace and stability through committing to U.N. resolution,” Mikati added.

Speaking at a press conference following his talks with Berri, Hochstein said the Israeli government has asserted that it prefers a diplomatic solution and that he believes that both Israel and Lebanon want such a solution.

"We need to find a diplomatic solution that will allow for the Lebanese people to return to their homes in south Lebanon... as the people of Israel need to be able to return to their homes in their north," Amos Hochstein told reporters in Beirut.

"We're living in a crisis moment where we would like to see a diplomatic solution and I believe that both sides prefer a diplomatic solution," Hochstein said, adding: "It's our job to get one."

Hochstein also held talks Thursday with Army Commander General Joseph Aoun.

Hochstein, a senior advisor to U.S. President Joe Biden, mediated a landmark deal demarcating Lebanon and Israel’s maritime border inked in 2022. Before the outbreak of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, he said he hoped to broker a similar deal on the land border — a trickier and more politically fraught topic.

Hezbollah and Israeli forces have engaged in near-daily clashes for the past three months. The fighting escalated in recent weeks, particularly since suspected Israeli strikes killed a top Hamas leader and a senior Hezbollah commander in Lebanon this month.

Israeli officials have threatened a wider war in Lebanon if Hezbollah does not withdraw its forces north of the Litani river as stipulated in a 2006 cease-fire agreement.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah in a recent speech signaled openness to Lebanon reaching an agreement on the land border but said it can only happen after the Israel-Hamas war ends. Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib has said that no deal on land border demarcation nor on Hezbollah’s presence in the border area would be signed before the war ends, but that discussions could start while the conflict is ongoing.


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