BEIRUT — Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) leader Gebran Bassil on Wednesday denounced the position of Lebanon's caretaker government, which said it was ready to "demarcate Lebanon's southern border along the Blue Line" with Israel.
Bassil said such negotiations would constitute a "violation of the Constitution."
On Tuesday, caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati stated in an interview with the daily Nida' el-Watan that Lebanon had informed the United Nations of its readiness to demarcate the southern border with Israel. In a tweet published on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Bassil said he was "surprised" by this position.
"Border negotiations are the prerogative of the president," said the FPM leader. He asserted that land borders "do not require demarcation" as they are already defined and internationally recognized under the Paulet-Newcombe Agreement of 1923 and Security Council Resolution 425.
"These agreements clearly stipulate Israel's withdrawal to the international borders," Bassil added. "No concessions will be made on Lebanese territory ... and any talk of negotiating land borders is a violation of the Constitution and a suspicious act."
He also warned of "consequences for those who engage in such discussions," in a vague allusion to Mikati.
Bassil said that the installation of Hezbollah tents in the Ghajar region was "another matter."
In early July, the Israeli army built a fence to the north of the village of Ghajar, which is part of Lebanese territory, cutting it off from the rest of the country. The village, which has an Alawite majority, is divided in two by the UN Blue Line and is disputed by Lebanon, Israel and Syria.
In addition to the installation of this barrier north of Ghajar, Lebanon's southern border has seen a resurgence of tension in recent weeks, culminating in an exchange of fire last Thursday. Following the firing of at least one unclaimed mortar shell from Lebanon towards Israel, the Israeli army shelled the area around the nearby villages of Kfarchouba and Mazraat Halta with approximately fifteen rockets.
In 2006, the last major confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah left more than 1,200 dead on the Lebanese side, mostly civilians, and 160 dead on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.