Hezbollah has been exchanging bombardments with Israel on the border since October 8 (French)

Lebanese officials said that Hezbollah rejected initial ideas from the United States to calm the ongoing fighting with Israel across the border, which included withdrawing its fighters away from the border, but the party remains open to American diplomacy to avoid waging an all-out war.

The US special envoy to Lebanon, Amos Hockstein, is leading diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring security on the border between Lebanon and Israel at a time when the region is dangerously sliding towards a major escalation of the conflict in the context of the consequences of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip.

These efforts have become more urgent in light of the attacks carried out by the Iran-aligned Houthis from Yemen on ships in the Red Sea, the US strikes in response, and the clashes and acts of violence in other regions of the Middle East.

A senior Lebanese official said: “Hezbollah is ready to listen,” but at the same time he stressed that the party considered the ideas presented by Hockstein during his visit to Beirut last week unrealistic.

Hezbollah's position is to continue firing rockets towards Israel until a comprehensive ceasefire is reached in the Gaza Strip.

Hezbollah's rejection of the proposals made by Hockstein has not been previously reported in news reports.

Despite the rejection and the missile launches launched by Hezbollah in support of Gaza, a Lebanese official and a security source said that the party’s openness to diplomatic communication indicates its desire to avoid a broader war, even after an Israeli strike reached Beirut itself, in which a prominent leader of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) was killed. On January 2nd.

Israel has also said it wants to avoid war, but both sides say they are ready to fight if necessary.

Israel warned that it would respond forcefully if an agreement was not reached to secure the border area.

Such an escalation threatens to open a new major chapter in the regional conflict.

Lebanese officials and a European diplomat said that Hezbollah, which Washington classifies as a "terrorist organization," did not participate directly in the talks, and instead Lebanese mediators conveyed Hochstein's proposals and ideas to the party.

Reuters contacted 11 officials from Lebanon, the United States, Israel and Europe to prepare this story.

Three Lebanese sources and an American official said that one of the proposals put forward last week was to reduce cross-border hostilities in conjunction with Israel's move towards carrying out less intense operations in the Gaza Strip.

Two of the three Lebanese officials said that a proposal was also conveyed to Hezbollah for its fighters to move 7 kilometers away from the border.

This proposal leaves the party's fighters much closer to Israel's public demand to retreat 30 kilometers to the Litani River as stipulated in a 2006 UN resolution.

The Lebanese officials and the diplomat said that Hezbollah rejected the two ideas, describing them as unrealistic.

The group has always rejected the idea of ​​laying down arms or withdrawing its fighters, many of whom originally come from the border region and therefore live there even in times of peace.

The Israeli Prime Minister's Office declined to comment on "reports of diplomatic discussions" in response to questions from Reuters on this topic.

Spokesmen for Hezbollah and the Lebanese government have not yet responded to requests from Reuters for detailed comments.

The White House declined to comment.

However, the three Lebanese officials said that Hezbollah had indicated that once the war in Gaza ended, it might be open to the idea of ​​Lebanon negotiating an agreement through mediators regarding the disputed border areas, a possibility that a Hezbollah leader mentioned in a speech this month.

A senior Hezbollah official told Reuters - requesting anonymity - "After the war on Gaza, we are ready to support the Lebanese negotiators to turn the threat into an opportunity," but he did not address specific proposals.

The group ceased fire during the previous truce in the war on the Gaza Strip, which lasted 7 days in late November.

Israeli government spokesman Elon Levy said in response to a question from Reuters during a press briefing yesterday, Wednesday, that there is “still a diplomatic opportunity” to push Hezbollah away from the border.

During his visit to Beirut on January 11, the American envoy met with Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, the Speaker of Parliament, and the Army Commander.

He said publicly at the time that the United States, Israel, and Lebanon preferred a diplomatic solution to the issue.

"I hope that we can all continue to work on both sides of the border, towards a solution that allows all people in Lebanon and Israel to live in guaranteed security and return to a better future," Hockstein told reporters after meeting with Lebanese officials.

In solidarity with the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to a devastating Israeli war since October 7, Hezbollah and Palestinian factions in Lebanon have exchanged intermittent daily bombardment with Israel since October 8.

As of Wednesday, the confrontations resulted in the killing of 30 Lebanese civilians, including 3 journalists and 3 children, as well as a Lebanese soldier, 5 members of the Al-Qassam Brigades - Lebanon branch, and 162 members of Hezbollah, which killed 9 soldiers and 5 Israeli civilians, according to official figures from both sides.

Source: Reuters