Israel to hold talks with UN over IDF pullout from northern border town
Israel seeks assurances from UN that its security concerns are addressed in event of future withdrawal.
Israel will commence negotiations with the United Nations over a withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the northern section of the village of Ghajar, which sits along the border with Lebanon, the government decided on Wednesday.
The move comes after consultations held in Jerusalem on Wednesday between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and senior officials from the defense establishment.
Officials in Jerusalem say the goal of the negotiations is to ensure that any agreement take Israel's security concerns into account. The officials said any deal must include working guidelines that would define the IDF's cooperation with UNIFIL, without which Israel will not pull its forces out of northern Ghajar.
The discussion on Wednesday was aimed at formulating an official Israeli response to the United Nation's proposal for regulating the situation in Ghajar, which is split between Lebanon in the north and Israel in the south.
Olmert was expected to decide in favor of pulling out of Ghajar and engaging in dialogue with the UN about setting a timetable for the move. Israel is reportedly seeking to complete the move in a way that would make it difficult for Hezbollah to claim the pullout as a victory.
One possibility discussed was to sign a three-way agreement with the UN and Lebanon regarding the town.