A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Ghajar Off the Table Until Lebanese Elections?

Israel is reportedly postponing further talks about withdrawing from the divided Lebanese/Golan Heights village of Ghajar (earlier articles here and here); the rationale is said to be that it wants to wait until after the June 7 elections to guarantee that Hizbullah does not take over the Lebanese half of the town.

My first reaction is that Hizbullah just got a big electoral boost. An Israeli withdrawal would have been a win for the current Lebanese government, but now it looks as if Israel is holding Ghajar hostage to make sure southern Lebanese vote right. That is unlikely to work very well. And as I've said before, talk of Hizbullah "winning" the elections ignores the coalition building that is a normal part of any Lebanese Parliament.

UPDATED: My second reaction was to say to myself, hey, I don't imagine Hizbullah is going to let this one go by without a comment, and sure enough, here's Al-Manar, citing the Haaretz report:
The "gift" the Zionist entity wanted to provide to the Lebanese Prime Minister ahead of the parliamentary elections is no longer under discussion… and the reason is too simply that the Zionist entity is scared of a possible Hezbollah victory in the elections!
Indeed. They recognize it as a boost to their own prestige.

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