US exploring land border delineation between Lebanon and Israel, Hochstein says

White House adviser says he visited southern Lebanon 'to understand and learn more about what is needed to be able to potentially achieve an outcome'

Lebanon's Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, right, receives Amos Hochstein in Beirut. AFP
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The US is exploring the possibility of resolving the long-standing border dispute between Lebanon and Israel, senior White House adviser Amos Hochstein said on Thursday at the end of a two-day visit to Lebanon.

Mr Hochstein said it was “natural” to look into the issue following the delineation in 2022 of the maritime border between the two countries, which paved the way for offshore exploration activities to begin on behalf of Lebanon last week.

The senior White House adviser said he had visited southern Lebanon during his trip “to understand and learn more about what is needed to be able to potentially achieve an outcome”.

“It is time for me to hear from the other side, and to make an assessment if this is a right time,” he said.

The current demarcation line between the two countries is known as the Blue Line, a frontier mapped by the UN that marks the line to which Israeli forces withdrew when they left south Lebanon in 2000.

Tension has flared along it this summer, with rockets being fired at Israel during bouts of Palestinian-Israeli violence, and members of the heavily armed Lebanese group Hezbollah or its supporters facing off with Israeli forces.

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib said last week that determining the land border could put an end to that tension.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, which had its one-year mandate renewed on Thursday, has hosted meetings between the world body, Lebanon and Israel on points of contention preventing the delineation of the land border.

Updated: August 31, 2023, 7:32 PM