BEIRUT: The US Embassy in Lebanon said on Thursday that the administration in Washington is concerned about “the possibility of a further spillover” of the conflict in Gaza.
A message posted by the embassy’s official account on social media platform X said the US “does not want to see conflict in Lebanon, where escalation would have grave implications for regional peace and security and for the well-being of the Lebanese people.”
It also stressed that “restoring calm along the Israel-Lebanon border is of utmost importance, and fully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is a key component of this effort.” Resolution 1701 was adopted 17 years ago with the aim of resolving the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah
The embassy added that the UN Interim Force in Lebanon plays a vital role in keeping the peace along the Blue Line, the demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel established by the UN in June 2000, and “we expect all parties will ensure the safety of peacekeepers.”
The message came after the Israeli army approved military plans for the next phases of its ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israeli air, ground and naval forces are prepared to resume operations as soon as the current truce ends.
On the second day of his visit to Lebanon, meanwhile, French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian visited the southern suburbs of Beirut where he held talks on various issues with Lebanese politicians in an attempt to help break the long-running political deadlock in the country.
Those he met included Hezbollah MP Mohammed Raad; Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement; Sami Gemayel, head of the Lebanese Kataeb Party, MPs from the Change coalition; and independent MPs.
The president’s office has been vacant for more than a year since Michel Aoun’s term ended in October 2022, and Gemayel blamed Hezbollah for obstructing the election of a successor. He urged Hezbollah and its allies to reach a consensus on candidates who can be trusted and supported by all parties, rather than trying to impose their own choices.
In addition, he called for the retirement of army chief Gen. Joseph Aoun to be postponed during this critical period for the country. The general will reach the retirement age of 60 on Jan. 10.
Gemayel also said he rejects any settlement in the region that would come at the expense of Lebanon, and emphasized the need to “implement Resolution 1701 and international resolutions, and limit weapons to the Lebanese Army” because “today, there is no state in Lebanon; Hezbollah is the state.”
The main topics Le Drian discussed with politicians reportedly included the urgent need to elect a president and form a government, the full implementation of Resolution 1701, and ensuring stability is maintained in the south of the country.
Lebanese Forces MP Georges Okais, one of those who met Le Drian, said the envoy had emphasized the importance of implementing Resolution 1701 and extending Gen. Aoun’s term as army chief, given the current need to maintain Lebanon’s security.
Hezbollah opened a second front in southern Lebanon on Oct. 8 in the name of of “supporting the resistance in the Gaza Strip.” It has carried out many operations targeting the Israeli army, which in response launched several similar attacks against the southern border region. Israeli shelling has on occasion targeted towns deep inside southern Lebanon, killing more than 100 people including more than 80 members of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad in Lebanon.
Though the truce in the wider conflict in Gaza that took effect last Friday has been breached more than once, Hezbollah has largely adhered to the agreement.
However, further violations of the truce were reported on the southern Lebanese front on Thursday. Israeli military officials said two missiles were intercepted by their Iron Dome system on the outskirts of Rmaich, a village near the border with Israel.
“Our air-defense fighters have successfully intercepted a suspicious aerial target that crossed from Lebanon into Israeli territory,” they added.