Home News Blinken says Hezbollah attacks have cost Israel sovereignty in the north

Blinken says Hezbollah attacks have cost Israel sovereignty in the north


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said this week that Israel had “effectively lost its sovereignty in the north” as Hezbollah attacks from southern Lebanon forced large numbers of people to flee, underscoring the severity of cross-border attacks that risked sparking a larger regional war alongside the conflict in Gaza.

Blinken’s remarks came as senior White House official Amos Hochstein was set to travel to Paris to discuss ways to ease the escalating border conflict between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. Hochstein, the top White House official for global energy and infrastructure, has become President Biden’s de facto envoy in his quest to resolve the border conflict.

A person with knowledge of the talks, who requested anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues, confirmed that Hochstein planned to meet with French officials. Lebanon became a French protectorate after World War I; France still has some influence in Lebanon. give suggestions Stop the fighting. There was no immediate comment from the White House.

U.S. officials have been trying for months to prevent a war between Israel and Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and has launched rocket attacks on northern Israel in tandem with Hamas, the militant group that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas launched the current war with an Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Fears of an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah have grown in recent weeks as cross-border fighting between the two militants intensified, with Israeli officials publicly vowing to shift their military focus away from Hamas and toward the more advanced and powerful Hezbollah as a military threat.

Firas Maksad, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute Written on Xthe main players still have time to seek a diplomatic solution. Hochstein said his visit is likely to take place on Wednesday. “The diplomatic window is closing, but it is not closed,” he said.

Speaking on Monday at the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., Blinken said he did not think the main players in the border conflict — Israel, Hezbollah and Iran — really wanted war, but that the “momentum” of the conflict could lead to it. U.S. officials worry that such a conflict could force the United States to defend Israel.

“Nobody actually wants war,” Blinken said. Iran, a sworn enemy of Israel, “wants to make sure Hezbollah is not destroyed and that Iran can use Hezbollah as a trump card if there is a direct conflict between Iran and Israel,” he said.

Some 60,000 Israelis have fled the conflict zone along the border, many of whom have been living in Tel Aviv hotels for nine months. Speaking about the situation, Mr. Blinken said: “Israel has effectively lost sovereignty over the northern part of the country because people don’t feel safe going home.” The fighting has also displaced tens of thousands of people from southern Lebanon.

“If things aren’t done to address the security concerns, people won’t have the confidence to go back,” Blinken said, adding that addressing the issue would require a deal to withdraw U.S. troops from the border.

Blinken noted that Hezbollah had said it would stop firing at Israel if there was a ceasefire in Gaza, which he said “underscores the importance of a ceasefire in Gaza.” But the latest round of talks between Israel and Hamas appears to have reached an impasse.

Mr. Hochstein met with Israeli and Lebanese officials in recent weeksResponsible for delivering messages to Hezbollah and working to negotiate a withdrawal of Hezbollah far enough from the border to meet Israel’s demands. In return, analysts say Israel may withdraw from some disputed border areas and the United States may provide economic aid to southern Lebanon.

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