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French defense minister tells Israeli officials that Paris is working to prevent full-scale Lebanon war

French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Jan. 22, 2024 (Photo: Shachar Yurman)

French Defense Minister Sébastien Lecornu told Israeli leaders on Monday that France is involved in preventing a full-scale war between Israel and Hezbollah.

According to a French official, Lecornu said that “concrete steps are under discussion… publicly, discreetly, and secretly” to prevent a war.

The latest diplomatic maneuver in the region comes as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant stated that a war on the northern border would be “devastating” for the Iranian-backed guerilla forces.

“With 700 French troops deployed in UNIFIL, France is actively involved on the ground and will keep engaging towards a diplomatic solution along Israel’s northern border,” the official told The Times of Israel.

“The basis of such a solution lies in the implementation of UNSC Resolution 1701, on both sides,” the official added, emphasizing that the French effort is part of a wider diplomatic strategy being led by the United States.

There are three French citizens still missing since Oct. 7 and they are believed to be among those held captive by Hamas in Gaza.

Gallant hosted the French minister at the Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tel Aviv. According to an Israeli readout, Gallant briefed Lecornu “on the IDF’s progress in achieving the goals of the war – namely the destruction of Hamas’s governing and military capabilities, and the return of hostages."

Gallant noted that the IDF will continue operating until these are achieved and expressed his appreciation for France’s commitment to "changing the security situation in southern Lebanon, and to distancing Hezbollah forces from the border.”

However, Gallant also clearly stated that Israel would not be able to cease its operations against Hezbollah in Lebanon as long as the it continues to pose an existential threat to the northern communities, most of have which have been evacuated.

“A war in the north will be challenging for Israel but devastating for Hezbollah and Lebanon,” he said. “Israel will not cease fire until it can guarantee the safe return of the [evacuated] northern communities to their homes, following a change in the security situation along the border.”

Tens of thousands of Israeli citizens have relocated from 42 communities in the north to other parts of Israel. The evacuees fear returning to their homes on the northern border unless the IDF ensures that Hezbollah is not able to launch a similar terror attack like the one Hamas perpetrated against Israel's southern border communities on Oct. 7.

In Lecornu's meetings with Gallant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi, he reiterated his nation's "top commitment towards the release of all hostages detained in Gaza.”

Lecornu also told Israel’s war leadership that France would continue providing humanitarian aid to Gaza.

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

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