The Complex Chessboard: Diplomatic Maneuvers and Military Escalation in Lebanon-Israel Relations

Press Highlights
2023-12-14 | 02:03
High views
Share
LBCI
Share
LBCI
Whatsapp
facebook
Twitter
Messenger
telegram
telegram
print
The Complex Chessboard: Diplomatic Maneuvers and Military Escalation in Lebanon-Israel Relations
Whatsapp
facebook
Twitter
Messenger
telegram
telegram
print
7min
The Complex Chessboard: Diplomatic Maneuvers and Military Escalation in Lebanon-Israel Relations

Developments in Lebanon, especially in the south, have reached a stage of military escalation and a race towards a major settlement under regional and international sponsorship, aiming to restore calm and stability to the south.

Negotiations are underway on multiple fronts, with a significant focus on ongoing US efforts led by the envoy for global energy security, Amos Hochstein. There is also notable French involvement in the Lebanon-Israel line. According to Western diplomatic sources, France seeks a key role in any agreement reached, building on US proposals with differences in tone and approach.

 

The sources add that the United States, through Hochstein, raises the issue of negotiating to arrange the land borders, similar to the success achieved in demarcating maritime borders.

This approach avoids escalation without resorting to threats or demanding a safe or buffer zone. Meanwhile, the French have varied their positions between conveying threats, and warnings and calling for the formation of a buffer or safe zone. They emphasize the issue of the withdrawal of Al-Radwan forces affiliated with Hezbollah from southern Litani to the north. Otherwise, Israel will launch a war against the Hezbollah.

Despite these differences in tone or approach, the political track in search of reaching an agreement formula continues amid military escalation in the south. In recent days, Israeli operations against residential areas and targets considered Hezbollah weapon depots have intensified, signaling a message to the party that its locations are known. Therefore, they must be withdrawn to the north of Litani, or they will be targeted.

Post-ceasefire military escalation coincides with increased communication. After the meeting between Deputy Speaker Elias Bou Saab and Hochstein in Dubai, Hochstein conducted multiple contacts with Lebanese officials. Messages were exchanged between him and Speaker Nabih Berri as part of the negotiations to achieve a ceasefire. For Hezbollah, calm in Lebanon is linked to a ceasefire in Gaza, and nothing else. This is well-known to the Americans, meaning that any discussion will be related to the post-ceasefire stage.

In this context, an Israeli proposal has been leaked to the French and Americans. The proposal includes Israel agreeing to keep some joint monitoring sites with the Lebanese and French armies. Israel also insists on the deployment of the Lebanese army on the borders with French forces and French-US supervision with UNIFIL on the borders with Lebanon. US forces would be deployed from the Israeli side. The Israeli offer also includes a condition of "no weapons other than those of the Lebanese army south of Litani."

 Israeli Disputes There are two interpretations of this proposal. The first, simplistic interpretation, is a return to the implementation of Resolution 1701, which included the deployment of international emergency forces with French participation. US deployment would be on the Israeli side.

Also, this offer dismisses the issue of a safe or buffer zone demanded by the Israelis, meaning no withdrawal of Hezbollah from the south. The third point, the withdrawal of Hezbollah's weapons from the south of Litani to its north, is fundamental and cannot be accepted by the party. Negotiations may revolve around the withdrawal of heavy weapons, such as precise and long-range missiles, and drones to the north of the river.

 The second interpretation of the offer is that it serves as an introduction to what the Americans propose regarding the demarcation of land borders and the establishment of stability. This would require lengthy negotiations to achieve that.

 Amid these offers, Western sources do not hide internal disputes within Israel over this proposal. Ministers Yuval Steinitz and Benny Gantz are working in coordination with the Americans, supporting such proposals to reach an agreement with the party and obtain guarantees. They differ in approach with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Although they are in favor of toughness, they support reaching an agreement, while Netanyahu tries to impose war conditions and lure everyone into it.

 The Israeli-US disagreement has become clear after Biden's words about war, wrong choices, and the need for a change in Netanyahu's government. The sources add that the difference in approach exists within the US administration as well.

 Some advocate adopting Hochstein's method, which calls for reaching an agreement with Hezbollah based on his experience with the maritime border demarcation. The other opinion points to the need to continue escalation, whether in Gaza or Lebanon, even if it leads to war. Therefore, even on the Israeli and US levels, conditions for agreement on the situation in southern Lebanon are not mature.

 Full Readiness Regarding Lebanon and Hezbollah, thinking about the party's withdrawal or the withdrawal of Al-Radwan forces from the south is impossible. Second, any discussion on how to restore stability or implement Resolution 1701 will be linked to the post-ceasefire stage after the war on Gaza stops. Negotiations will then begin, firstly on what basis the ceasefire will be and whether it is linked to a comprehensive solution.

 For Hezbollah, the logic after the war on Gaza differs from before, and there must be readiness and preparedness for any Israeli steps. The question must be asked about who will defend Lebanon if the Israelis decide to launch any attack.

 Therefore, Hezbollah insists on full readiness for any Israeli steps. Even with the presence of the Lebanese army and an increase in its numbers by about 5,000 or 10,000 new elements as suggested by the Lebanese government, in addition to the proposal of some countries to increase the number of UNIFIL forces and enhance their role, that will not negate the party's presence south of Litani.

 Hezbollah is working to consolidate this presence openly, and therefore it will not withdraw from that area. The maximum that may happen later if an agreement is reached is that the party will not reappear openly militarily in the south of the river, as was the case in 2006.

 

 

 

 

 

Press Highlights

Lebanon

Hezbollah

Israel

South Lebanon

LBCI Next
Cocktail Users Transform into Zombies... New Ways of Drug Abuse
Hochstein’s diplomatic solution in Lebanon-Israel relations
LBCI Previous
Download now the LBCI mobile app
To see the latest news, the latest daily programs in Lebanon and the world
Google Play
App Store
We use
cookies
We use cookies to make
your experience on this
website better.
Accept
Learn More