France shares more proposals with Israel over southern Lebanon

France shares more proposals with Israel over southern Lebanon
France's foreign minister was in Israel on Tuesday to discuss the latest proposals made to Lebanese officials over the weekend to end border hostilities.
2 min read
Sejourne (L) met with his Israeli counterpart in Jerusalem on Tuesday [Getty]

French officials shared on Tuesday proposals made to Lebanese authorities to defuse tensions between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said as Paris attempts to work as an intermediary between the sides.

Israel and Hezbollah have been engaged in escalating daily cross-border strikes over the past six months - in parallel with the war on Gaza - and their increasing range and sophistication has raised fears of a wider regional conflict.

Hezbollah has amassed a formidable arsenal since 2006 and since October thousands of people on both sides of the border have been displaced.

"A number of proposals that we made to the Lebanese side have been shared (with you)," Sejourne said ahead of a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz in Jerusalem.

"We have a relationship with Lebanon, 20,000 citizens there and the war in 2006 was particularly dramatic for them."

Sejourne was in Lebanon on Sunday where he met officials including politicians close to Hezbollah. French officials say they had seen progress in the responses from Lebanese authorities.

Sejourne said the basis of the proposals was to ensure U.N. resolution 1701 was implemented.

Hezbollah has said it will not enter any concrete discussion until there is a ceasefire in Gaza, where the Israeli offensive is in its seventh month.

Israel has flagged a potential military operation along its northern front, saying it wants to restore calm on the border with Lebanon so thousands of Israelis can return to the area without fear of rocket attacks, even if Hezbollah has said it will not stop exchanges until there is a ceasefire in Gaza.

France has historical ties with Lebanon, a large expatriate population in the country and some 700 troops as part of the .N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

Sejourne presented this year a written proposal to both sides that included Hezbollah's elite Radwan unit pulling back 10km (6 miles) from the Israeli border and Israel halting strikes in southern Lebanon.

It also looked at long-term border issues and was discussed with partners including the United States, which is making its own efforts to ease tensions and exerts the most influence on Israel.

Katz thanked France for its help in intercepting Iranian missiles and drones in an attack on Israel in April.

"It was a message that regional states participated in that because it was very important in regards to what we can expect in the future," he said.