J'lem: Officials deny report that Israel will cede Rajar, Shaba Farms

Senior Israeli officials said on Tuesday that Israel periodically considers the issue of the village of Rafar and the Shaba Farms, but has not yet reached a final decision on the matter, Israeli Radio reported. The officials commented in response to a story published by London-based Arab daily Asharq Alawsat, in which a Lebanese source revealed that Israel had expressed to the US government its willingness to withdraw from the Shaba Farms and the northern half of Rajar, on the Lebanese border, after receiving guarantees from Beirut that the areas would be under UNIFIL control. The source reportedly said that General Claudio Graziano, the commander of the UN force in southern Lebanon, had succeeded in convincing Israel to withdraw from the disputed territories in a series of meeting with Israeli officials. UNIFIL spokesperson Yasmina Bouzianne confirmed the report, adding that she hoped that a final agreement would be reached soon.