Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ghajar Withdrawl, Any Day Now. Maybe.

As removed from the public eye as they seem to be able to keep things, Israeli officials have been preparing to withdraw from the town of Ghajar which straddles the Israeli Lebanese border.

Israeli officials have reportedly met with UN officials within the last several days to, reportedly, discuss the details of the Israeli withdrawal. The planed withdrawal, which calls for UN peacekeepers to administer the town so as to prevent Hezbollah filling any power vacuum left by an Israeli withdrawal still leaves some question marks. For example, what will be the fate of the residents of Ghajar who hold Israeli citizenship but will find themselves on the Lebanese side of the line? The answer to this question is not clear since they are Israeli citizens and are about to be essentially "handed over" to a foreign country. It's not clear that they would be given Lebanese citizenship at all.

The Ghajar question was also brought up at recent high level talks between French and Israeli officials. High level Israeli officials seem to be supportive of the withdrawal, which would bring Israel into compliance with UN resolutions on the matter. There are dissenters, of course, who are opposed to such a withdrawal, but they appear to be in a minority.

It's unclear when the withdrawal will take place, but it appears that Israel seems to be preparing to go and is capable of leaving Ghajar at any time. One reason for the withdrawal is that some suspect it will help to bolster the Lebanese government by handing them a 'deliverable' which they can tout to their people, a concession from Israel that was not obtained by violence or by Hezbollah. The reality is though, nobody is sure what will really happen because, after all, Hezbollah has been known to target UN peacekeepers and it has even been suggested that they are preparing some new cross border raid.

This being said, Israel should withdraw. Part of the town that is not Israeli, should not be held by Israelis. Ghajar is said to have little or no strategic value, it is not economically or politically very significant and returning the town is an obligation under UN resolutions. It also has the international relations bonus of giving the French a deliverable in the region while potentially hurting Hezbollah. Win, win, win, win!

The question now, is when will it all happen.

1 comment:

Lirun said...

i noticed this issue earlier this year


one of the problems was the welfare of the inhabitants.. how to ensure they had freedom of movement within the town while ensuring security issues and preventing the infiltration of terrorists etc