Britain's strong stance: Hezbollah urged to stay away from southern borders amid rising tensions

Press Highlights
2024-02-03 | 01:51
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Britain's strong stance: Hezbollah urged to stay away from southern borders amid rising tensions
Britain's strong stance: Hezbollah urged to stay away from southern borders amid rising tensions

On Friday, Britain reiterated through the Minister of State for the Middle East, Tariq Ahmad, the necessity for Hezbollah to stay away from the southern borders as part of the arrangements being prepared to defuse the war tension on the front. 

This article was originally published in and translated from the Lebanese newspaper Nidaa Al-Watan.

This position came after a similar announcement by British Foreign Secretary David Cameron during his recent visit to Beirut. The British focus on the field aspect echoes the anticipated US movement towards Israel and Lebanon in the coming days.

The British Minister of State stated, "Consultations are ongoing for the return of Hezbollah behind the Litani River," emphasizing "the support of the Lebanese army to maintain security and push Hezbollah into central and northern Lebanon."

Cameron wrote on the X platform, "The UK is working to help preserve stability in Lebanon and prevent a damaging regional escalation." He added, "We're supporting the Lebanon Armed Forces – we've trained over 26.5k Lebanese soldiers and are giving further humanitarian aid to help the most vulnerable."

The British Embassy in Lebanon distributed a statement outlining the results of Cameron's visit, accompanied by Minister Ahmad. 

The statement highlighted: "This is his first official visit to the country as Foreign Secretary, following his previous visit as Prime Minister in September 2015 and his fourth visit to the Middle East as Foreign Secretary."

The statement pointed out that Cameron raised concerns during his talks about "the rising tensions along Lebanon's boundary with Israel and underlined the UK's commitment to support the de-escalation of violence."

In a related context, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant warned that stopping the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza would not apply to the ongoing hostilities with Hezbollah. 

During his tour on the Israeli side of the border with Lebanon, he stated, "If Hezbollah believes that when there is a ceasefire in Gaza, it will stop firing, and we will stop, it is making a big mistake." 

After inspecting forces from the "Alpinist Unit" of the Israeli army in Mount Hermon, he declared, "I say here frankly: until we reach a situation where security can be restored to the residents of the north, we will not stop. When we achieve this through [diplomatic] arrangements or military means, we can be calm." 

The Times of Israel newspaper quoted Gallant as telling his soldiers near the border with the Gaza Strip, "There are other soldiers being deployed in northern Israel." "They will start working very, very soon," he said.

Gallant told a delegation of UN ambassadors visiting Israel, along with Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan, that the time left before Israel takes action on the northern border "continues to diminish." 

He emphasized that "Israel prefers to settle matters diplomatically but is also preparing for the military option at the same time."

An Israeli senior official mentioned that the possibility of reaching a political settlement on the northern borders that would push Hezbollah deeper into Lebanon currently stands at 30 percent. 

According to him, Israel continues to give an opportunity for diplomatic efforts and, despite doubts, hopes for positive results. The US special envoy, Amos Hochstein, is expected to arrive in Israel next week to discuss this matter.

Israeli media reported that Israel is concerned about a scenario where an agreement on hostages with Hamas could lead to a cessation of fighting in Gaza, making Hezbollah stop firing, as was the case in the previous deal. 

In such a case, Israel would face a complex problem because it would not be able to return displaced residents to their homes without Hezbollah withdrawing at least 8-10 kilometers from the Lebanese border.

For this reason, the senior official stated, "Israel must continue its operations against Hezbollah even in the event of a cessation of hostilities." 

He said, "We cannot fall into this trap and stop our gunfire, even if Hezbollah does so. The residents will not agree to return to their homes unless Hezbollah withdraws significantly from the border."

In the diplomatic framework, Paris announced that French Foreign Minister Stéphane Séjourné would begin a Middle East tour until Tuesday, focusing on the political prospects for the post-war period in Gaza. 

It will be the new minister's first tour in the region, leading him to Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories, and Lebanon.

The Ministry's spokesperson, Christophe Lemoine, stated that during his tour, Séjourné would warn of the dangers of the region's ignition and convey different messages urging self-restraint, especially to Lebanon, "where the prospect of a new war between Israel and Hezbollah raises great concerns for the international community."

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