UNIFIL Spokesman: Israel, Lebanon hold ‘near-daily’ meetings to defuse tension

A spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon said that since the current situation along the Israel-Lebanon border is “very sensitive” both sides have been holding meetings “almost on a daily basis… The dialogue is open. No one has ever walked out.”

By Reuters & Israel Hayom Staff


Lebanon and Israel have been holding near-daily talks over the border dispute that has raised tensions between them, according to the U.N. peacekeeping force that is mediating their discussions.

“There is a full engagement from all the sides and there have been meetings almost on a daily basis. The dialogue is open. No one has ever walked out from these meetings,” said Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

A UNIFIL soldier in Israel overlooking the border. – Photo: IsraelandStuff/PP

Tensions have risen recently between the two states over the Israeli border wall currently under construction, Lebanese offshore energy exploration, and the growing arsenal of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group, which Israel sees as the biggest threat on its border.

Lebanon, Israel and UNIFIL were already holding three-way talks every few weeks in a building on the border near the peacekeepers’ base at Naqoura in southern Lebanon. They are now being held more often, along with indirect talks conducted through UNIFIL, Tenenti said.

Israel is building a border wall near the Blue Line, as the demarcation between the two countries in lieu of a formal border agreement is known.

IDF patrols Israel’s border with Lebanon – Photo: IsraelandStuff/PP

Lebanon has described the wall as an “act of aggression,” saying it intrudes into Lebanese territory. Israel says the wall will be entirely on its side of the Blue Line and in Israeli territory.

At the same time, Lebanon has begun offshore oil and gas exploration in an area along the sea border that is claimed by Israel.

“There is a will to keep this dialogue open. … I think now, beside the heightened rhetoric, the reality on the ground is different, and there is no appetite for instability or for war,” Tenenti said.

“The last 12 years have seen the quietest period the south of Lebanon has witnessed in over 30 years. But it is important to keep in mind that things along the Blue Line are in general very sensitive. Anything could, if it is not addressed immediately, potentially spark into something bigger and increase tension.”


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