U.N. presses Israel on Shebaa

The United Nations is pressing Israel to reopen negotiations with Lebanon over the disputed Shebaa Farms area.

Israel maintained control over the tiny enclave after it ended its 18-year occupation of parts of Lebanon’s south in 2000, withdrawing to U.N.-determined borders. At the time, the United Nations determined that Shebaa Farms was part of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War, and should be left to Israel-Syria negotiations.

Lebanon continued to claim the area, and the Hezbollah terrorist group used Shebaa Farms as one of its pretexts for continuing attacks on Israel, including the cross-border raid in July 2006 that launched a 34-day war. Syria backed the claim of Lebanese ownership in public statements supportive of Hezbollah aggression, but never took formal steps to relinquish the area to Lebanon.

U.N. cartographers now say there is some merit to Lebanon’s claim and U.N. diplomats are pressing Israel to reopen negotiations, the Ha’aretz newspaper reported Friday. Israel is resisting the pressure, fearing that relinquishing Shebaa Farms now would hand Hezbollah a victory.

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