JERUSALEM (Apr. 20)
Israel’s recent takeover of a Lebanese village north of the security zone has reportedly ended an American mediation effort to station Lebanese police in the town.
The Israeli daily Ha’aretz reported Tuesday that the move by the Israeli army in the village of Arnoun came as a surprise to the United States and obstructed a U.S. effort that the Lebanese government had been ready to support.
According to the paper, the U.S. mediation effort had been prompted by an Israeli protest against Hezbollah activity in the village.
Arnoun lies on the road leading to the Crusader-built Beaufort fortress, which serves as an Israeli army outpost.
Arnoun was previously taken over by Israel in February, but Lebanese civilians later tore down barricades around the town that had been put up by the Israeli army.
Israel subsequently asked, via American intermediaries, that the Lebanese government deploy its own troops in Arnoun to maintain order.
Lebanon reportedly rejected the request on the grounds that its troops would appear to be operating against Hezbollah.
But in further contacts with U.S. officials, the Lebanese government said it was not as opposed to stationing police in Arnoun, a move it said would reflect its interest in upholding Lebanese law and sovereignty in the region.
The death of an Israeli army soldier last week in a Hezbollah roadside bombing prompted Israel’s Security Cabinet to recommend immediately fencing off the Lebanese village once again, rather than await the results of American mediation, the paper said.