JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will on Monday present a plan to the United Nations for Israel’s withdrawal from part of a disputed village along the Lebanese border, a political source said on Sunday.
The village of Ghajar, which straddles the Israel-Lebanon border but whose residents profess allegiance to Syria, has for years been an occasional flashpoint for violence between Israeli troops and Iranian-backed Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas.
Earlier this year a U.N. official in Lebanon said the two countries needed to make progress on demarcating their border, called the “blue line,” which is monitored on the Lebanese side by a U.N. peacekeeping force known as UNIFIL.
Ghajar lies on the foothills of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights captured from Syria in a 1967 war. Residents have Israeli citizenship and work in Israel. They don’t want Lebanon to control the village because they say they are Syrian.
In 2000, a U.N. panel placed the northern part of Ghajar in Lebanon. But Israel re-took control of that during its 2006 war with Hezbollah, because of frequent clashes there.
Hezbollah, an ally of Syria, largely rules south Lebanon and is now a powerful political player in Beirut. It has said it would not recognize any Israeli control in Ghajar and has attacked Israeli forces deemed to be on Lebanese soil.
Netanyahu will present the recommendations of a military panel to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon when the two meet in New York on Monday, said the source, who refused to be identified further.
“The prime minister has approved the plan that has been discussed with the heads of UNIFIL and it will be brought for discussion (by senior ministers) after he returns from the United States,” the source said.
Netanyahu begins a U.S. visit in New Orleans on Sunday where he will meet north American Jewish leaders before continuing to New York to see Ban and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
U.N. special coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams said in August following a clash at another point along the 120 kilometer (75 mile) border that an Israeli withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar “would do a lot to help restore trust.”
Writing by Ori Lewis