'Israel wants UN to declare it free of Lebanon border violations'
Israel seeking recognition to prevent Lebanese factions from raising further territorial demands, such as the future of the Shaba Farms area, following planned Ghajar withdrawal.
Israel will ask the United Nations to announce that once the Israel Defense Forces withdraws from the northern section of Ghajar, it will no longer be in violation of the international border with Lebanon, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz Wednesday.
The source said the cabinet was informed of the move by IDF and Foreign Ministry officials, which met on Wednesday to vote in favor of the army's unilateral retreat from the northern part of the village. The resolution was approved unanimously.
Israel is seeking the UN's official recognition to prevent Lebanese factions from raising further territorial demands, such as the future of the Shaba Farms area on Mount Dov.
On Wednesday, the cabinet ordered the Foreign Ministry and the IDF to begin negotiations with UNIFIL commander Alberto Asarta, giving the parties 30 days to reach an understanding on how and when the withdrawal will be carried out, the security arrangements at the border and the international recognition of the move. The agreement with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon will then be brought before the cabinet for approval.
Although the retreat will not be coordinated in any way with Lebanon, Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government is not opposed to the arrangement and sees the retreat as an achievement it can showcase to the Lebanese public.
"The Lebanese government will be able to show that an Israeli retreat can be brought about by diplomatic means, and not only through military confrontation," a Foreign Ministry source told Haaretz. "This move benefits all parties involved."
IDF officers told the cabinet that security arrangements can be made to prevent Hezbollah militants from infiltrating the border village.
The security situation after the withdrawal is expected to be better than before the 2006 Second Lebanon War, as Ghajar will be defended from the north by a large UNIFIL force - equiped with watchtowers, lighting and a ground barrier that would make infiltration very difficult.
UNIFIL will effectively isolate the village from the rest of Lebanon, preventing open access to other Lebanese civilians, while the IDF will reinforce its contingent in the south of Ghajar.
According to the proposed arrangement, the IDF will retreat to the southern part of the village, thereby implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The northern part of Ghajar will fall under the military responsibility of no party, while UNIFIL will prevent residents of the rest of Lebanon from entry.