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Amid tensions with Hezbollah, Netanyahu meets with US special envoy Hochstein

U.S. Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein speaks at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon, August 1, 2022. (Photo: Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed senior Biden advisor Amos Hochstein on Tuesday reportedly to discuss "regional issues and issues related to the close cooperation between the United States and Israel." 

Hochstein, the U.S. Special Presidential Coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, is expected to meet with Netanyahu to discuss potential Saudi-Israeli normalization and tensions with the terror organization Hezbollah.

The high-level meeting in Jerusalem comes amid strained ties between the two administrations due to the Israeli government’s judicial overhaul and Jewish settlement expansion plans. 

In a recent CNN interview, U.S. President Joe Biden blasted Netanyahu’s current coalition, as one of Israel’s “most extreme.” The American president also claimed that a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement was a “long way off.” 

Hochstein, born in Israel, played an instrumental role in realizing a maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel in 2022. At the time, the senior U.S. official stressed the unique nature of the Lebanese-Israeli agreement. “This is clearly a historic day for two countries that never ended their state of war,” Hochstein said

There were concerns that the powerful Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group would oppose the Lebanese-Israeli agreement. In the end, the Shiite Islamist fundamentalist organization tacitly greenlighted the agreement with the expectation it would benefit from an inflow of funds to the cash-strapped Lebanese economy. 

However, Hezbollah’s tone has recently moved into a far more belligerent direction. In late June, UNIFIL, the United Nations peacekeeping mission on the Lebanese-Israeli border, confirmed that Hezbollah had illegally built an outpost on the Israeli side of the border in a contested area known as Shebaa Farms.

While Israel prefers a diplomatic solution, IDF officials have warned it would use force to remove Hezbollah operatives from its territory. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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