Representative image

US envoy meets Lebanese leaders to avert escalation on Israel border

Jun 19, 2024

Beirut [Lebanon], June 19: US special envoy Amos Hochstein said on Tuesday that his country was working to avoid "a greater war" between Israel and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in south Lebanon, as he held talks with top Lebanese officials.
"We have seen an escalation over the last few weeks and what [US] President [Joe] Biden wants to do is to avoid a further escalation to a greater war. That is the effort here," Hochstein told reporters after holding talks with Lebanon's House Speaker Nabih Berri, a close ally of Hezbollah.
"This is a very serious situation that we are in," the US official said.
"We believe that there is a pathway diplomatically" to end the conflict, he said. The US official arrived earlier Tuesday in the Lebanese capital and held talks with Berri and Prime Minister Najib Mikati among others.
"We continue to seek to stop the escalation, restore security and stability, and stop the ongoing violations of Lebanese sovereignty and the acts of systematic killing and destruction committed by Israel," Mikati said in a statement after meeting the US envoy.
First stop in region in Israel Hochstein visited Israel on Monday. Benny Gantz, an opposition leader, reportedly told Hochstein on Monday that "time is running out" to reach any sort of diplomatic deal to reinstate calm along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
Gantz stressed to Hochstein that he is committed to "removing the threat Hezbollah poses to the citizens of northern Israel, regardless of developments on the war in Gaza," his office said.
Several leading UN officials spoke about their concern over the rising tensions on Tuesday.
"The danger of miscalculation leading to a sudden and wider conflict is very real," said UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, and head of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Aroldo Lazaro in joint statement.
UN Human Rights Commissioner Volker Türk also said he was "extremely worried about the escalating situation between Lebanon and Israel," in comments to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Escalating violence on the border Since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip in October last year, there have been daily clashes between the Israeli army, Hezbollah and allied groups in the border area between Israel and Lebanon.
Israel wants to use military and diplomatic pressure to ensure that Hezbollah retreats behind the Litani River, 30 kilometres from the border - as stipulated in an important UN resolution on the 2006 conflict.
Source: Qatar Tribune