US assures Lebanon that Israel not interested in border fight: report
AP Photo/Hussein Malla
A senior US diplomat has reportedly assured Lebanon's government that Israel wants to avoid an escalation with its northern neighbor as the two countries come to blows over boundary disputes and the construction of a border wall.
Israeli and Lebanese leaders have exchanged dire threats over the past week, with Lebanon declaring Israel's building of a wall on their shared border as an "assault" and vowing to thwart it, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned his country's foes "not to try us."
But on Thursday Reuters news agency quoted a Lebanese official as saying that Acting Assistant US Secretary of State, David Satterfield, had told his interlocutors in Beirut that there is "no call for concern" about the stand-off escalating into violence.
“He [Satterfield] held talks regarding the wall with Israel and said there is no call for concern, and there is no direction towards escalation,” the unnamed official was quoted as saying.
“He assured the Lebanese that Israel does not want escalation.”
Satterfield flew to Lebanon after meeting with Israeli officials last week, Reuters reported. On Wednesday a US official told the Arab News that the senior diplomat had been dispatched on a "surprise" visit to Beirut with the express aim of tempering Israeli-Lebanese tensions.
Along with the harsh words of the two country's political leaders, Lebanon's Higher Defense Council also weighed in on Wednesday.
“The Higher Defense Council has given its instructions to confront this aggression to prevent Israel from building [the wall] on Lebanese territory,” it said in a statement.
Israel intends to fully fortify its meandering border with Lebanon, home to Iran-backed Hezbollah, a Shiite militia Israel fought a devastating war with in 2006.
The two countries are also at odds over a patch of the Mediterranean which both lay claim to.
In January Lebanon's prime minister rubbished a warning by Israel's defense minister that companies should not bid for oil and gas exploration licenses in the disputed area.
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Hezbollah is the govt and it wants war.
in the next war, Lebanon will be pushed back to the Stone age and better just a pile of rubble.