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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Residents of Ghajar beg Israel to stay

Residents of the Lebanese border town of Ghajar met with representatives of Israel's foreign ministry of Tuesday, begging them not to turn the northern half of the town over to UNIFIL or Lebanon. 70% of Ghajar's residents live in the northern half of the town. I discussed the issues involved at length here.
The residents said that such a move would make life insufferable, and they would have to go through security checks every time they needed to work their fields, go to the store or the supermarket. They also warned of violence from Hizbullah if Israel pulled back from the northern part of the town.

Gal is leading the Israeli team negotiating with UNIFIL over a possible withdrawal from the town, which straddles the Lebanese border. Gal presented UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen Claudio Graziano on Thursday with Israel's vision of arrangements in and around the town following a possible IDF pullback.

One ministry official said Tuesday's meeting in Ghajar with the residents should not be interpreted as an indication that a withdrawal from the northern part of the Alawite town was imminent. Discussions with UNIFIL have centered on how UNIFIL forces would be deployed in and around Ghajar to prevent Hizbullah from smuggling men or arms into Israel through it.

The government has reportedly approved a plan to turn over control of the northern half of the village to UNIFIL. No physical barrier would be built between the northern and southern parts of the village, but rather UNIFIL would patrol both the northern half and the perimeter.

The details, however, are still being worked out between Israel and UNIFIL. All the residents of the town are Israeli citizens, and no one is remarking publicly about what their legal status would be, were the northern part of the village turned over to UNIFIL control.


When the IDF pulled out of Lebanon in 2000, the UN determined that the international border between Israel and Lebanon ran through the middle.

Since that time Israel has placed a checkpoint at the southern part of the town, and the residents told Gal this prevented people from entering and leaving freely. This situation, they said, would only be exacerbated if the IDF were to leave the area.

The residents Tuesday presented Gal, who was accompanied by officials from the IDF and the foreign, defense and justice ministries, with maps they said proved that the town was never split in half by the international border.
What could go wrong?


At 5:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

When will Israel defend its national sovereignty? Apparently never.

What could go wrong indeed

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

This could be an interesting experiment. What if Israel were to have a local special assessment district, which would be a bunch of land on the south side of the town (past the south side). On that land, people from the north side of town would be offered a chance to rent-to-buy an apartment, townhouse, patio home, or whatever they can afford. That way, anyone who wants to be on Israel's side of the line, whether for convenient grocery shopping, farming, or a chance for their children to participate in the most vibrant science and technology progress happening in the whole world could move south if they choose. Sell bonds for this project through JStreet, whose participants will surely want to make a positive concrete contribution to solutions in the region. /


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