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Middle East conflict: Search for a political solution in the Lebanon conflict

Middle East conflict: Search for a political solution in the Lebanon conflict
Middle East conflict: Search for a political solution in the Lebanon conflict

The USA is working feverishly to de-escalate the military conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Iran issues a clear warning. An overview of the events of the night.

While the US is exploring ways to avoid a war in the conflict between Israel and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, the mutual attacks between the opponents continue for the time being. The Israeli Air Force attacked Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon in response to renewed attacks on areas in northern Israel, the Israeli army announced late Friday evening.

There are fears that a possible war could escalate into a regional conflict, in which the US and Iran would also be drawn. Iran’s UN mission in New York warned on Platform X on Saturday morning that if Israel starts a full-scale military aggression against Lebanon, “it will be a devastating war.”

Israel’s Defense Minister: We are not looking for war

According to Defense Minister Joav Galant, Israel does not want war, but believes its army is prepared for it. “We are working on a political solution. That is always the best option,” Galant said on Friday during a visit to troops near Israel’s border with Lebanon, Israeli media reported. “We are not looking for war, but we are prepared for one.” If Hezbollah chooses war, “we know what we will do,” he added. “If they choose peace, we will respond accordingly.” The Shiite militia in Lebanon has repeatedly stated that Israel must first completely end the war in the Gaza Strip against the Islamist organization Hamas, which is allied with Hezbollah, before it stops shelling Israel. Hezbollah and Hamas are allies of Iran.

All options, “including the full participation of all (anti-Israeli) resistance fronts, are on the table,” said Iran’s UN mission in warning against war. The first results of the country’s presidential election are expected on Saturday. The election of a successor to President Ebrahim Raisi, who recently died in a helicopter crash, comes amid a serious economic crisis, tensions with the West, frustration with the state and government, and the conflict in Lebanon between arch-enemy Israel and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah.

Report: US examines options for political solution

The US continues to see a ceasefire in the Gaza war as an important step towards resolving the crisis in Lebanon, the Washington Post reported on Friday (local time). At the same time, officials have begun to examine alternatives to de-escalation. In recent days, the US government has presented new wording for parts of a proposed agreement in the Gaza war to bridge the gap between Israel and Hamas and reach an agreement, the US news portal Axios reported on Saturday morning, citing three informed sources. The changes were based on a plan for an agreement presented by US President Biden in a speech last month.

The three-stage plan initially provides for a temporary ceasefire during which some of the Israeli hostages in the Gaza Strip will be released. In a second phase, the fighting will then cease permanently and the remaining hostages will be released. In a final phase, the reconstruction of Gaza will begin. According to the USA, only Hamas has not yet agreed to the plan. The new wording affects the passage in the agreement that deals with negotiations for a “sustainable” ceasefire in the second phase, according to “Axios”. It is hoped that Hamas will agree to this in the end.

At the same time, according to the Washington Post, US officials have begun to examine alternatives to de-escalate the Lebanon conflict. Israel was pressured behind closed doors not to be the party that escalated the conflict in Lebanon, the newspaper reported. Drafts of an agreement call on Hezbollah, among other things, to withdraw heavy weapons from the border with Israel, while in return funds for reconstruction in Lebanon would be offered, it said, citing Lebanese and European officials. Despite the ongoing fighting in the Gaza Strip, the Hezbollah militia continued to negotiate with Washington through Lebanese mediators.

Qatar should help

Qatar, which together with the USA and Egypt acts as a mediator between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza war, has also been asked by the United States to help resolve the Lebanon conflict, the US newspaper quoted a person familiar with the efforts as saying. Since the Gaza war began almost nine months ago, there have been daily exchanges of fire between Israel’s army and Hezbollah in the border area between Israel and Lebanon. On Friday, the militia fired 25 missiles and three drones at Israel, the Israeli military announced. No one was injured. Israel’s army said it fired at several Hezbollah launch sites.

Several countries, including Germany, have again called on their citizens to leave Lebanon. The USA says it is not currently preparing to evacuate its citizens from Lebanon, but this week it has deployed an additional US warship, the “USS Wasp”, to the region. However, ships of this type are not used exclusively for military-supported departures, stressed the Pentagon’s deputy spokeswoman Sabrina Singh on Friday. “They are in the region to guarantee stability and avert aggression.” When asked whether the ship’s deployment was related to preparations for a possible evacuation of American citizens, as the US broadcaster NBC had previously reported, Singh answered “no”.

Pentagon: Gaza pier towed to Israel again

Meanwhile, the temporary pier erected by the US military on the coast of the contested Gaza Strip has been dismantled again due to rough seas. The facility will be towed to Ashdod on the Israeli coast, Singh said. She did not specify a date when the pier could be put back into operation – this depends on the circumstances. “We will continue to monitor environmental and weather factors,” said the spokeswoman and announced that she would provide further information on the situation.

The pier had already been temporarily moved to Ashdod due to rough seas to prevent structural damage. The temporary structure was damaged shortly after it was put into operation in May due to high waves and stormy seas. The Israeli city of Ashdod is a good 30 kilometers from Gaza. There have also been repeated problems with the distribution of aid supplies. According to Singh, there are still undistributed aid supplies in the pier area. Although there is still space, the area is “almost full.” The Pentagon’s deputy spokeswoman said that talks are being held with the World Food Program (WFP) to coordinate further action.

Source: Stern

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