According to a document reviewed by Reuters, France has presented Beirut with a written proposal to resolve conflicts with Israel and establish peace along the disputed Lebanon-Israel border. The proposal urges Hezbollah and other involved groups to withdraw 10 km (6 miles) from the border.
The plan seeks to halt the clashes between Iran-backed Hezbollah and Israel along the border. These conflicts have occurred simultaneously with the Gaza war, raising fears of a devastating, full-scale confrontation.
According to four senior Lebanese and three French officials, the document represents the initial written proposal introduced to Beirut after weeks of Western mediation efforts. French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne delivered the document to top Lebanese state officials, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati, last week.
A three-step plan has been outlined, involving a 10-day process of de-escalation culminating in border negotiations. According to one French diplomatic source, the proposal has been presented to the governments of Israel, Lebanon, and Hezbollah. France, which maintains historical ties with Lebanon, has approximately 20,000 citizens in the country and contributes around 800 troops to a UN peacekeeping force.
Stephane Sejourne stated at a news conference, "We have made proposals and are in contact with the Americans. It is important for us to consolidate all initiatives and work towards peace."
Hezbollah-led forces have engaged in near-daily attacks on Israeli communities and military posts along the border since October 8, a day after the October 7 massacre by Hamas, a terror ally. The group claims these actions are in support of Gaza amid the ongoing conflict there.
These border skirmishes have resulted in the deaths of six civilians on the Israeli side and nine IDF soldiers and reservists. Additionally, there have been several attacks from Syria, although no injuries have been reported.
Hezbollah has identified 193 members killed by Israel during these skirmishes, primarily in Lebanon but also some in Syria. In Lebanon, casualties include 29 operatives from other terror groups, a Lebanese soldier, and at least 19 civilians, including three journalists.
Israel has issued warnings that it will take action if Hezbollah fails to comply with UN Resolution 1701 by withdrawing from the northern border.
The French document aims to prevent a potential conflict deemed as "risking spiraling out of control" and seeks to enforce a ceasefire when the conditions are deemed appropriate. It also outlines plans for negotiations regarding the delineation of the disputed land border between Lebanon and Israel.
Hezbollah has rejected formal negotiations for de-escalation until the conclusion of the Gaza conflict. This stance was reiterated by a Hezbollah politician in response to inquiries for this report.
While some details of similar mediation efforts led by US Middle East envoy Amos Hochstein have been circulating in recent weeks, the complete details of the French-written proposal delivered to Lebanon have not been previously disclosed.
Image source: Reuters