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US secretary for political affairs in Lebanon as border dispute with Israel simmers


US secretary for political affairs in Lebanon as border dispute with Israel simmers

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Photo: Reuters/Aziz Taher

United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale will visit Lebanon today, meeting with officials including parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

The Lebanese are likely to raise the issue of Israel’s building of a 13-kilometre concrete wall along the border between the two countries. The issue has inflamed tensions with Israel, with Beirut issuing a complaint to the UN Security Council over the border construction; it is unlikely that will actually halt the project.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued the wall is needed to prevent attacks on nearby villages by Hezbollah; his government plans to eventually have the barrier built along the entire 130-kilometre border. Lebanon argues that the project is a violation of its sovereignty.

Expect Israel to proceed with the project over Beirut’s objections. With Netanyahu facing a general election in April and weighed down by corruption allegations at home, aggression towards Lebanon could serve to help rally his right-wing base. Additionally, considering the Trump administration’s pro-Israel leanings, today’s appeals to Hale may fall on deaf ears.

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