BEIRUT — Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Tuesday that "the main objective of the contacts with the United States, the United Nations, and the European Union is to spare Lebanon from any potential global war."
In a speech before members of Lebanon's consular corps, Mikati announced that "in the coming months, negotiations will take place through the United Nations to establish stability at the southern border, starting with the full implementation of Resolution 1701 until an agreement is reached, via the UN, on the disputed points concerning the country's land border with the Israeli enemy."
He continued by saying "this issue is of fundamental importance in order to avoid a war with unknown consequences for Lebanon. We hope to achieve, in the next three months, a period of complete stability at our borders."
"We are in the midst of a storm and in an undesirable situation ... My main concern at the moment is to avoid, as much as possible, Lebanon being dragged into the war."
He emphasized that what is happening in Gaza "is condemnable and totally unacceptable," reiterating Lebanon's support for the Palestinians and their cause.
He also praised Hezbollah. "I have said on several occasions that I greatly appreciate what Hezbollah does in terms of restraint and wisdom," he said. "Some criticize me for saying that the decision to go to war is not in my hands. Am I expected to lie to the people? If I had said that this decision was mine, then I would have made everyone assume this responsibility and hitting Lebanon would have then been seen as legitimate," Mikati added.
When asked if his conversations with the international community offer guarantees to Lebanon, Mikati replied: "From whom should I seek guarantees? Should I get them from Israel, which kills Palestinians every day without regard for ethics or humanity?"
He insisted that this is why his intention "over the next three months is to create a kind of permanent stability at the border. It's a difficult task, but I have international guarantees to facilitate the process and achieve the solution we want."
He believes that the fundamental question remains the election of a new Lebanese president, saying that Lebanon will not be considered a significant negotiator for peace in the region so long as this seat remains empty.
Around the same time as Mikati's statements, the Lebanese army announced that one of its soldiers was killed and three others injured in an Israeli bombing of a military post in southern Lebanon. This marks the first Lebanese military personnel killed since the start of cross-border violence.
Since the Hamas-Israel war began, triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, there have been daily exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, except for during the truce and exchange deal that started Nov. 24 and ended one week later.
These hostilities have resulted in over 110 deaths in Lebanon, the majority of casualties being Hezbollah fighters. Fifteen civilians and three journalists have been killed, according to L'Orient Today's count. At least six Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in Israel in attacks from Lebanon, according to authorities south of the border.