UNIFIL spokesperson Neeraj Singh said on Saturday: “Israel is obligated to withdraw from northern Ghajar and the adjacent region north of the Blue Line according to UN Security Council Resolution 1701.”
“It is very important for UNIFIL that there be a definite date and time for the Israeli army’s withdrawal from the area,” Singh told reporters in the South, according to National News Agency (NNA).
The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s general director called UNIFIL regarding the Israeli security cabinet’s decision to withdraw forces from northern Ghajar, but UNIFIL has not received written notification of the decision, Singh said.
The director told UNIFIL commander General Alberto Asarta that the cabinet has “accepted in principle UNIFIL’s proposal to facilitate the withdrawal of the Israeli army from northern Ghajar,” he added.
Asked about protests against the decision by the town’s residents, he said that “the priority for us is the Israeli army’s withdrawal according to Resolution 1701.”
In a related development France welcomed on Thursday Israel’s decision to withdraw from the northern section of the village of Ghajar, hoping this will take place as soon as possible.
French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages said: “This decision falls in line with commitments pledged in U.N. Security Council resolution 1701.”
Hezbollah MP Kamel al-Rifai said Thursday that Israel’s decision to withdraw from Ghajar is an attempt to “elude” U.N. Security Council resolutions.
The Israeli “plan to pull out from Ghajar is to shift attention and elude the international resolution,” Rifai told ANB television station.
Hezbollah MP Walid Succariyeh said on Thursday that Israel coordinated the announcement of its withdrawal from Ghajar with the US so that it coincides with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s (STL) upcoming indictment.
“Israel wanted in its announcement to show that it has implemented UN Security Council Resolution 1701 and therefore “there should be no more justification for the Resistance’s weapons ” Succariyeh told NBN.
Commenting on Russian offer to supply weapons to the Lebanese army he said:
“Russian tanks are not suitable weaponry for confronting Israel, and will only be tombs for Lebanese soldiers if such a confrontation happens.”
Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said at the end of his talks with Russian PM Vladimir Putin that Russia has decided to donate to the Lebanese army six helicopters model MI 24, thirty one tanks model T-72 , thirty six cannons 130 mm , about half a million munitions for various weapons and thirty thousand artillery shells for the 130 mm cannons.
Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri commented on Thursday in a statement about Israel’s decision to withdraw from the northern section of the border town of Ghajar by saying : “The resistance is a national need.”
What is so ironic about Berri’s statement, according to observers is the fact that it was the so called ‘resistance’ that lost the northern section of Ghajar to the Israeli’s during the 2006 war.
“Some residents of the border town of Ghajar are Syrians who carry Israeli passports, and there could be a problem if they remain in Lebanon after the Israeli withdrawal from the northern part of the town”, Lebanese Information Minister Tarek Mitri told LBC on Thursday.
“The village includes some residents who might be forced to move to the southern side of the village in order to retain access to their families and their property”, Mitri added .
Israeli Ministers on Wednesday approved the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the northern half of Ghajar, a divided town that straddles the Lebanese border, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz,
The unilateral pullout will reportedly take place without any coordination with Lebanon, still technically at war with Israel.
Together with the Golan Heights, the southern half of Ghajar was taken by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War with Syria. After Israel annexed the Golan in 1981, Ghajar fell under official Israeli jurisdiction and most of its residents have accepted Israeli citizenship.
Most residents of Ghajar belong to the Alawi sect, an offshoot of Shia Islam, whose adherents include Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian political elite.
Over the years, the village expanded northwards into Israeli-controlled southern Lebanon, incorporating the Lebanese village of Wazzani. The UN demarcated the Israeli-Lebanese border following Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, granting Lebanon control of the northern section of Ghajar. However, Israel re-took the entire village following its war with Hezbollah in 2006.