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France's plan seeks Hezbollah pullback, army deployment to Lebanon-Israel border

France is pushing a plan to de-escalate Israel-Hezbollah tensions and avoid a full-fledged war similar to 2006.
Smoke billows from the site of an Israeli air strike in the southern Lebanese village of Shihin near the border on February 11, 2024, amid ongoing cross-border tensions as fighting continues between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by KAWNAT HAJU / AFP) (Photo by KAWNAT HAJU/AFP via Getty Images)

PARIS — The deployment of thousands of Lebanese soldiers to the south of the country near the border with Israel is key element in the French proposal for de-escalation in the region, a French diplomatic source confirmed to Al-Monitor on Thursday, noting that Paris is working closely with the Biden administration to avoid the outbreak of an all-out war between Israeli forces and Hezbollah.

Tensions have increased considerably on the Israel-Lebanon border since Hamas attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7. An Israeli strike killed a Hezbollah commander, two fighters and seven civilians in the southern Lebanese city of Nabatiyeh, a security source told AFP on Thursday.

France has been leading efforts to de-escalate tensions and proposed a three-phased plan on Monday. 

"We believe that we should not wait for a new cease-fire in Gaza to be agreed upon to start working on de-escalating tensions between Israel and Hezbollah," said the diplomatic source, adding, "The idea is to work on that now. This way, when a cease-fire in Gaza is reached, there would already be discussed proposals for the Israel-Lebanon border on the table. The proposal currently put on the table sees a critical role for the Lebanese army. For this to work, the army would need to receive adequate budgets and to be able to function effectively."

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