UN, Lebanon Discuss Plans for Ghajar

Following Israel's decision to withdraw from the northern half of the disputed Lebanon border village, UN officials aim to restore Lebanese sovereignty in the area.

The UN's special coordinator for Lebanon on Thursday called Israel's plans to withdraw from the northern half of a disputed village that straddles the border with Lebanon an important development and a step forward.

Ghajar - AP - Nov. 10, 2010

Michael Williams, who is in Beirut along with the commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, met with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Thursday for talks that focused on Israel's decision to pull out from the village of Ghajar.

Williams said the move would be only a first step toward resolving the status of Ghajar so that Lebanese sovereignty is fully restored over all Lebanese territory. Hariri did not speak to reporters.

Last month, Israel announced its decision to withdraw from the northern half of Ghajar. When Israel ended its 18-year occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, U.N. surveyors split the village between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan. Israel took back the village's northern half after its 2006 war with Hezbollah.

The village is home to some 2,200 people and lies in a strategic corner where the boundaries of Syria, Israel and Lebanon are in dispute. More than 1,500 residents live in the northern half.

Also Thursday, Lebanese judicial officials said a military magistrate demanded
a prison term between 3 to 15 years for a former army general accused of giving information to Israel.

Riad Abu Ghida's recommendation for former Brig. Gen. Fayez Karam's sentence occurred five months after his detention, said the officials on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Karam led in the late 1980s the country's counterespionage department. Karam, who ran for a parliament seat last year and did not succeed, is a senior member of the Free Patriotic Movement of Christian leader and strong Hezbollah ally Michel Aoun.

More than 100 people in Lebanon have been arrested since 2009 on suspicion of collaborating with Israel. At least eight people have been sentenced to death for espionage.