Israel, UNIFIL fail to agree on formula for Ghajar withdrawal

Foreign Ministry meets w

Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal and his team failed to come to an agreement with UNIFIL Thursday over a formula for an Israeli withdrawal from the northern part of Ghajar, on the Lebanese border. During a meeting with UNIFIL commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano and his staff, the Foreign Ministry team said they weren't yet convinced the UN force could fill the role of the IDF and ensure the safety of residents of the northern part of the town who have Israeli citizenship. The team said, however, that Israel must continue to act in order to try and reach a settlement based on UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War in 2006. Ghajar has some 2,000 residents. When the IDF pulled out of Lebanon in 2000, the UN determined that the border ran through the middle of the town. Since the Second Lebanon War, Israel has maintained a military presence in the northern part of the town and built a security fence around it. UN, European and American officials have long urged Israel to move out of northern Ghajar to bolster the moderates in Lebanon, arguing that an Israeli withdrawal would be in line with commitments it made as part of UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the Second Lebanon War. Herb Keinon contributed to this report