Satterfield to Lebanon: Israel Is Not Seeking Escalation

Satterfield to Lebanon: Israel Is Not Seeking Escalation

Friday, 9 February, 2018 - 08:15
Israeli workers are seen building a wall near the border with Israel near the village of Naqoura, Lebanon February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Ali Hashisho
Beirut - Tel Aviv - Nazeer Rida and Asharq Al-Awsat
A US envoy assured Lebanon that Israel was not seeking an escalation between the two sides following a recent war of words, officials from Lebanon and Israel said on Thursday.
 
Acting Assistant US Secretary of State David Satterfield was in Israel last week and in Lebanon this week on a mediation mission, which was seen as the first move by US President Donald Trump’s Administration to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.
 
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Lebanese official told Reuters: “He (Satterfield) held talks regarding the (border) wall with Israel and said there is no call for concern, and there is no direction toward escalation.”
 
“He assured the Lebanese that Israel does not want escalation.”
 
Official Lebanese sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that the mediation to resolve the dispute over the maritime border was “not new” and “complements previous mediation efforts initiated in 2011.”
 
The sources stressed, however, that due to recent heated remarks by Israel, the US administration rushed to send Satterfield and activate the mediation.
 
Washington had earlier sent two envoys to Beirut in an effort to settle the dispute over the maritime border, which has emerged following the discovery of gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean.

In 2011, Ambassador Frederick Hoff visited Lebanon to develop an agreement to demarcate the maritime border between Lebanon and Israel, while Deputy Secretary of State for Energy Amos Hochstein came to Beirut in 2015 to reactivate the mediation.
 
Reuters also quoted an Israeli official, who also declined to be named, as saying that Satterfield was “relaying messages” to Beirut about several matters of contention.
 
“Our position has always been that we do not want to see the situation inflamed,” the official said, adding that at least two European countries were mediating, as well as the United States, according to Reuters.
 
Satterfield and General Security chief General Abbas Ibrahim on Thursday visited the UNIFIL headquarters in Naqoura, for a meeting with UNIFIL Head of Mission and Force Commander Major General Michael Beary over the latest developments along Lebanon’s southern borders, amid the Israeli construction of a concrete wall off Ras Naqoura.

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