Gulf state 'ready to help fund' Lebanese army in possible ceasefire deal with Israel: report

Gulf state 'ready to help fund' Lebanese army in possible ceasefire deal with Israel: report
An Arab Gulf state has reportedly said it is willing to help Lebanon financially implement a possible ceasefire agreement with Israel.
3 min read
09 March, 2024
Mediated efforts are looking to deploy the Lebanese army in the south and move Hezbollah away from the Israeli border [Getty]

A Gulf state has expressed readiness to financially support Lebanon’s military and fund watchtowers in the south of the country as part of a ceasefire deal with Israel, a Lebanese publication wrote Saturday.

Citing unnamed diplomatic sources, Nidaa al-Watan newspaper said an Arab Gulf state had expressed its willingness to finance the voluntary recruitment of 7,000 soldiers in the Lebanese army, as well as fund observation towers along Lebanon’s border with Israel.

The initiative, according to Nidaa al-Watan, comes in preparation for implementing United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701 between enemy states Lebanon and Israel.

On Friday, Israeli media reiterated that the Israeli army was planning a possible ground invasion of Lebanon, and that Brigadier General Moshe Tamir was assigned to draw up these plans.

Tamir had previously commanded the Gaza Division in the Israeli army.

Discussions in Israel are now revolving around a timetable for a possible ground invasion of south Lebanon, Israeli media said.

Earlier this week, Lebanese publication Al-Akhbar alleged that Israel had set a March 15 deadline for Lebanon with regards to reaching a political settlement, but the Israeli army later denied this.

Since the start of the Gaza war, Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group has been engaged in fierce cross-border clashes with Israel in support of Palestinians in Gaza. Although the fighting has largely been contained to the border area, Israel has in recent weeks conducted airstrikes far from the frontier, targeting what it says are fighters and infrastructure belonging to Hezbollah and Hamas.

UNSCR 1701 ended the month-long summer war between Hezbollah and Israel in 2006, but it was never fully implemented. Western nations, namely the US, have been trying to mediate a deal between Beirut and Tel Aviv to enforce the UN agreement.

Washington’s push for a ceasefire includes fully demarcating Lebanon and Israel’s land boundary, deploying more Lebanese troops in the south, and pushing Hezbollah fighters several kilometres away from the border. The cash-strapped Lebanese government says it does not have the financial capacity to deploy so many additional troops in the south, but countries such as France have said they are willing to help.

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Lebanon has been mired in an unprecedented financial and economic crisis since 2019, blamed on decades of rampant corruption and mismanagement.

On Tuesday evening, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati told a local television station that indirect talks to end the border hostilities will begin in Ramadan, the holy Muslim fasting month which will commence on Sunday.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it will resort to military action if diplomatic efforts fail. Hezbollah has in turn said there will be "no limits" in any future war.

As of March 5, 290 people have been killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon, including 228 Hezbollah fighters. Israel says only 10 of its soldiers and six civilians have died with more injured, but Hezbollah believes the number to be much higher.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced on both sides of the border, a point of major concern for Israel which is desperate to return its northern residents to their homes.

But the residents have refused, saying they fear a ground operation by Hezbollah similar to Hamas's surprise attack on October 7. Many Israelis have urged the military to deal decisively with Hezbollah, even by force.