U.S. Envoy Amos Hochstein Lands in Mideast to Promote Peace and Deter Conflict in Lebanon


US Special Envoy Amos Hochstein met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to urge Israel and Lebanon to avoid a war sparked by Hezbollah’s recent attacks on northern Israel. Hochstein previously brokered a deal in 2022 that granted Lebanon access to Israeli offshore gas fields in the Mediterranean, hoping to deter Hezbollah from targeting Israel.

Israel has responded to Hezbollah’s attacks by targeting the sources of fire and killing Hezbollah commanders, but insists it is prepared to go to war to restore calm in the north. “The current state of affairs is not a sustainable reality,” said David Mencer, spokesman for the Israeli government, in a press briefing. Mencer noted that Hezbollah has fired over 5,000 projectiles at northern Israel since October and that there is no legitimate reason for the attacks.

Hezbollah’s increasing aggression is bringing the region to the brink of a wider escalation that could have devastating consequences for Lebanon and the entire region. Israeli officials have vowed to ensure the safe and secure return of Israelis to their homes in northern Israel, stating that this is not up for negotiation.

In October, President Joe Biden appeared to warn Hezbollah and Iran against expanding the war, saying “don’t.” However, this warning appears to have been forgotten amid US pressure on Israel to slow its war effort in Gaza. Some Israeli critics have observed that “don’t” appears to apply only to Israel.

For two decades before its withdrawal in 2000, Israel maintained a “security zone” near the border in southern Lebanon to prevent terrorists from firing rockets at its northern border communities. The withdrawal was meant to bring calm, but Hezbollah kidnapped and killed several Israeli soldiers in 2006, leading to a war that ended in a stalemate. Iran has since continued to build up Hezbollah’s forces.

Hochstein’s proposal reportedly involves Israel withdrawing from the strategically important point of Har Dov on its own soil in exchange for calm. However, such a withdrawal would allow Hezbollah to threaten all of northern Israel. Hochstein met with Netanyahu and several other senior officials, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Joel B. Pollak
Joel B. Pollak
South African-American conservative political commentator, writer, radio host, and attorney.

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