Israel approves completion of Lebanon pullout


Israel on Sunday authorised UN troops to deploy in the Lebanese part of the divided border village of Ghajar, completing its pullout from Lebanon following the war with Hizbullah, a senior government official said.
The influential security cabinet “adopted an agreement on the status of Ghajar under which UNIFIL forces control the northern part of the village and Israel controls the southern part,” a senior government official told AFP.
Israeli troops had remained in northern Ghajar, a village that straddles the border between the two countries, after all other Israeli forces pulled out of Lebanon on October 1 following this summer’s 34-day war with Hizbullah.
Ghajar has been divided between Israel and Lebanon since May 2000, when the Jewish state withdrew from its northern neighbour — an arrangement not recognised by Beirut.
The Israelis hope that a final agreement on Ghajar would be reached within months, the official said.
“This is a temporary solution until a permanent resolution of the issue of Ghajar is reached,” the government official said. “This will be in a matter of months, not years.”
Israel and Hizbullah fought a 34-day war this summer that killed more than 1,200 people in Lebanon, almost all civilians, and 162 Israelis, mainly soldiers.
Israel launched the offensive after the militia seized two soldiers and killed three others in a cross-border raid on July 12.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2006