'UN to deem Sheba Farms Lebanese'

Israel fears UN statement will give Hizbullah justification to reignite North.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
The Sheba Farms, a small tract of land in the north of Israel, is Lebanese territory, according to an expert UN cartographer, Israel Radio reported Wednesday, quoting an unnamed official in Jerusalem. An official UN statement on the issue was yet to be published. The long-disputed farms were not returned to Lebanon during the 2000 pullout after Israel insisted the farms were claimed by Syria. Israel then said that only as part of a peace deal with Syria, which would potentially include returning part or all of the Golan Heights, would it consider returning the Sheba Farms to Syria. The source said Israel rejected a request by the UN to be in control of the Sheba Farms until the dispute was resolved. The cartographer, meanwhile, has moved to Jerusalem to continue his work, and a UN official denied that a demand from Israel to rescind control of the territory has been made. Reportedly, Syria and Lebanon agreed that the Sheba Farms was Lebanese territory. The confusion regarding the ownership of the farms dates back to the partition of the French mandate territory during the period between the two world wars that shaped the borders of Syria and Lebanon. Israel was against any decisive UN statements regarding the area, fearing that a public admission that the territory was Lebanese would effectively render Israel's 2000 pullout from Lebanon incomplete and give Hizbullah justification to re-ignite a military confrontation with Israel.