Lebanon looks to block Israeli frontier wall

A partial view taken on January 30, 2018 shows buildings of the Palestinian Shuafat refugee camp which is situated in East Jerusalem but surrounded by the Israeli controversial separation barrier. (AFP)
Updated 07 February 2018
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Lebanon looks to block Israeli frontier wall

BEIRUT: Lebanon on Tuesday pledged a diplomatic push to prevent neighboring Israel’s construction of a dividing wall between the two countries as tensions mount over off-shore exploration for oil and gas.
President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Saad Hariri and parliament speaker Nabih Berri pledged to “pursue efforts to mobilize at the regional and international level to block building of the wall by Israel,” a statement said after a meeting.
Israel has been building a wall since 2012 on its volatile frontier with Lebanon — with the two countries still technically in a state of war.
Israel and the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah fought a devastating conflict in 2006.
Lebanon says part of the wall follows the UN-demarcated “Blue Line” that was drawn up after Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, and insists some sections will cut into its territory.
Israel has dismissed these claims and said Tuesday that “construction continues as usual.”
“All the works are carried out in sovereign Israeli territory,” the army said.
The renewed focus on the wall comes as the two sides spar over Lebanon’s plans to explore for oil and gas off shore in waters eyed by both sides.
Beirut is set to sign contracts with a consortium including French firm Total, Italian company ENI and Russia’s Novatek to begin looking for energy deposits off its Mediterranean coast in 2019.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last month said awarding such bids amounted to “provocative behavior” by Lebanon’s government.
The statement from Lebanon’s presidency denounced the Israeli “allegations” and warned against attempts to “usurp” its resources.
Despite the hostility between the two countries, Israeli and Lebanese military officials meet regularly under the auspices of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to discuss border issues.
On Monday a meeting was held and discussions focused on “engineering works south of the Blue Line,” UNIFIL said in a statement.
“Any activity close to the Blue Line should be predictable, with sufficient prior notification to allow for coordination by the parties, so as to avoid misunderstandings and prevent incidents,” it added.


Protests to escalate with bigger Palestinian participation in Gaza and beyond

Updated 58 min 49 sec ago
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Protests to escalate with bigger Palestinian participation in Gaza and beyond

LONDON: Hamas movement’s senior political leader Ismael Haniyeh has warned Israel that forthcoming protests at the border with Gaza are to intensify in the next few weeks.

Hanieh, in a speech in Gaza, promised Israel that protests will escalate after May 15 and will draw Palestinians living in Israel as well as Palestinian diaspora in refugee camps and neighboring countries.

In addition, Haniyyeh said that earlier protests achieved their initial goal by reminding the world that the Palestinians are still suffering under Israeli occupation.

The Hamas leader promised larger demonstrations at the start of Ramadan, that will coincide with the 70th anniversary of Nakba, and the date chosen to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem as well as the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel.

A senior official in the Supreme National Council governing the ‘March of Return’ revealed that officials held meetings with the Fatah movement in the Gaza Strip, during which they agreed that all parties will arrange similar protests in the coming weeks.

The official also advised Palestinians in neighboring countries to join the protests against Israel as long as this does not expose them to reprisals, danger or violence on the day.

The senior official said that the Israeli authorities are on high alert and fear for the first time since 1967 that matters might escalate dangerously in May, the month Israelis celebrate the creation of the state of Israel.

And he added that Israel is preparing for a potential Israeli-Palestinian exodus toward villages and towns they were kicked out from in 1948 by Zionist gangs.