Unidentified sources told al-Akhbar newspaper that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) had been instructed to begin 15 new patrols in southern Lebanon to monitor Hezbollah activity. Reportedly, the instructions for the new patrols came after pressure from the U.S. and Israel. In April, UNIFIL confirmed a 3d tunnel from Lebanon to Israel. Israel claimed it had destroyed 6 tunnels during Operation Northern Shield, which began in December 2018 and ended in January 2019 (see Israel 1 January – 31 March).
The Lebanese president Michel Aoun said that the U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights (see United States) was undermining Lebanon’s claim to areas annexed by Israel during the 1967 war.
The U.S. intensified its efforts to mediate between Israel and Lebanon regarding a disputed maritime area, which Lebanon wants to explore for potential production of oil and natural gas. After senior U.S. officials shuttled between Israel and Lebanon to get direct talks going in May, the Lebanese reportedly agreed to direct talks if UNIFIL was included as a mediator between the 2 countries. By the end of the quarter, it was unclear if Israeli and Lebanese officials had begun the direct talks.
The Lebanese prime minister Sa’ad Hariri and speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri criticized the economic part of the U.S. peace proposal unveiled before the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain (see United States). Speaker Berri said that Lebanon would not be lured into resettling Palestinian refugees in return for the billion-dollar investment in the country that the U.S. is proposing. Prime Minister Hariri said that the Lebanese “government with parliament are against this deal and our constitution bans naturalisation.”