Israel to withdraw from Lebanese town

Israel will unilaterally withdraw from Ghajar, a town on its border with Lebanon, Israel’s Security Cabinet decided.

The withdrawal from Ghajar, which is situated half in Lebanon and half in Israel, will take place in coordination with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon within the next 30 days. The final agreement, including the date of the withdrawal, will be brought to the Israeli Cabinet for a vote to redeploy Israeli troops.

The withdrawal satisfies the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 passed after the second Lebanon war in 2006. The resolution also calls for the disarming of Hezbollah.

Israel took over Ghajar, which had been a Syrian village, in 1967 when Israel captured the Golan Heights. The residents voted to take on dual Syrian-Israeli citizenship.

Following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, Ghajar remained in the northern part of the village, which extended into Lebanon. Part of Resolution 1701 required Israel to withdraw from all of Lebanon, including the northern half of Ghajar.

Ghajar residents oppose the withdrawal, saying it will split the village. They say, according to reports, that they prefer the status quo, ultimately returning to Syria. — jta