France has presented a written proposal to Beirut, aiming to quell hostilities with Israel and resolve the contentious Lebanon-Israel border dispute. The document, delivered by French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, advocates for the withdrawal of fighters, including Hezbollah’s elite unit, from the border by 10 kilometers.
The plan, part of ongoing Western mediation efforts, seeks to end clashes between Hezbollah and Israel, which have escalated alongside the conflict in Gaza. While the proposal outlines steps towards a potential ceasefire and border negotiations, Hezbollah insists on waiting until the Gaza war concludes before engaging in formal de-escalation talks.
The three-step plan involves a 10-day process of de-escalation, culminating in border negotiations. France, with historical ties to Lebanon, aims to consolidate various diplomatic initiatives to foster peace in the region. However, Hezbollah’s reluctance to negotiate until the Gaza conflict subsides presents a significant obstacle.
The proposal suggests that Lebanese armed groups and Israel cease military operations against each other, paving the way for the withdrawal of combat forces from the border region and the deployment of Lebanese army troops. While Israel has received the proposal and is considering it, concerns have risen in Beirut regarding certain elements, including demands to dismantle premises near the border, which could target Hezbollah-affiliated civilian institutions.
Despite the proposal’s potential, tens of thousands of people on both sides of the border remain displaced, with casualties mounting since the conflict began in October. Western envoys continue to engage with Lebanese officials, although direct talks with Hezbollah have been limited due to its terrorist designation.
The proposal draws parallels with previous ceasefire agreements and calls for international support for the Lebanese army’s deployment and socio-economic development in southern Lebanon. As tensions persist, the proposal offers a glimmer of hope for de-escalating the conflict and initiating constructive dialogue between Lebanon and Israel. However, the path to lasting peace remains fraught with challenges, requiring sustained diplomatic engagement and cooperation from all parties involved.