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US envoy visits Lebanon in attempt to calm border tensions with Israel

Hochstein makes second visit to Lebanon in less than three weeks

U.S. Senior Advisor for Energy Security Amos Hochstein gestures as he stands next to U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon Oct. 27, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

United States diplomat Amos Hochstein, special presidential coordinator for Global Infrastructure and Energy Security, will arrive in Lebanon on Wednesday in an effort to de-escalate the growing tensions at the nation's border with Israel, according to the Times of Israel.

Hochstein is expected to meet with the Lebanese caretaker prime minister and other senior officials, as well as conduct an inspection of Lebanon’s southern border to examine the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission there.

The United Nations Security Council will vote on the renewal of the force’s mandate on Thursday.

Israel and the U.S. are aiming to strengthen the mandate of UNIFIL in Lebanon, an issue that was brought up by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant during his meeting with UN Sec.-Gen. António Guterres on Monday.

Hezbollah and the Lebanese side are seeking to restrict UNIFIL, including preventing patrols that are not coordinated with the Lebanese military ahead of time.

Hochstein has made frequent visits to the region lately, the latest on Aug. 8 when he was reportedly “feeling the pulse” about a potential border agreement with Israel, one that would pave the way for further agreements between the sides.

Hochstein also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in July, to discuss "regional issues and issues related to the close cooperation between the United States and Israel."

Since then, border tensions have only increased.

Israeli-born Hochstein played an instrumental role in realizing a maritime border agreement between Lebanon and Israel in 2022.

There were concerns that the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group would oppose the Lebanese-Israeli deal, but in the end, agreed.

However, Hezbollah has recently become more aggressive toward Israel, taking measures to defy that agreement.

In late June, UNIFIL confirmed that Hezbollah had illegally built an outpost on the Israeli side of the border in a contested area known as Shebaa Farms.

The terror group pitched two tents on the Israeli side of the Blue Line, which marks the ceasefire line that was established after the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.

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

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