A written proposal from France has been submitted to Beirut with the intention of resolving hostilities with Israel and addressing the contentious Lebanon-Israel border. The document, obtained by Reuters, proposes the withdrawal of fighters, including Hezbollah’s Radwan Force elite unit, to a distance of 10 km (6 miles) from the Lebanon-Israel border.
An Israeli official told Reuters the French proposal had been received by his government and was being discussed.
The 2006 UN Security Council Resolution 1701 calls for Hezbollah to be disarmed and move north of the Litani River, which is roughly 28 km (15 miles) from the border. The French are essentially offering the terrorist group full control over territory from which they should have withdrawn 18 years ago.
Reuters cited four senior Lebanese and three French officials who said the French proposal, calling for a 10-day process of de-escalation between Hezbollah and Israel, was delivered last week to Prime Minister Najib Mikati by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne.
The document seeks to avoid “spiraling out of control” in Hezbollah’s daily encounters with Israel, and implementing “a potential ceasefire, when the conditions are right,” which would eventually result in negotiations on border disputes between Lebanon and Israel.
The area cleared by Hezbollah will be taken over by the Lebanese Army. One pressing matter to tackle regarding this point involves financing for the Lebanese army, which has been significantly weakened by the severe economic crisis in Lebanon. The proposal advocates for an international endeavor to bolster the deployment of the Lebanese army through funding, provision of equipment, and training. Additionally, it emphasizes the need for socio-economic development in southern Lebanon.
So far, Hezbollah has formally refused to engage in negotiations for de-escalation until the end of the war in Gaza. This stance was confirmed by Hezbollah politician Hassan Fadlallah who spoke to Reuters, adding, “The enemy is not in the position to impose conditions.”
According to the two-page French proposal, a shorter withdrawal distance is advocated to prevent Hezbollah rockets from reaching villages in northern Israel, which have been subjected to attacks with anti-tank missiles. The proposal argues that this compromise should be more palatable to Hezbollah compared to a retreat to the northern bank of the Litani River.
However, the same proposal ignores the enormous underground stocks of missiles with which Hezbollah has saturated the entire territory of South Lebanon. If anti-tank missiles won’t reach Israel, Iran-made accurate, long-range missiles would.
A month ago, Hezbollah rejected a similar proposal by US envoy Amos Hochstein.