February 13, 2024 | Flash Brief

France Proposes Lebanon Border Deal

February 13, 2024 | Flash Brief

France Proposes Lebanon Border Deal

Latest Developments

France has proposed a three-step plan to resolve hostilities along the Israel-Lebanon border, media reports stated on February 12. The written proposal, which French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne delivered to Lebanese officials last week, outlines a 10-day process that would start with a ceasefire. The proposal requires Hezbollah and other armed groups to retreat at least 10 kilometers north within three days and envisions the Lebanese army sending up to 15,000 troops to the border. By day 10, Lebanon and Israel would resume negotiations to delineate their disputed land border. Paris is also calling for the international community to provide support for the Lebanese army and “the socio-economic development of southern Lebanon.”

Expert Analysis

“The notion that Lebanon can negotiate anything right now defies credulity. This is a state without a functioning government and with a debt that is staggering. In short, Lebanon is a failed state. Despite this, the U.S. and French efforts to avert a war should continue. It could save tens of thousands of lives. This should not be a negotiation, however. The international community must make demands. They must not be negotiable. The failure to deliver anything short of a full withdrawal from Hezbollah north of the Litani River is a recipe for a war in the Middle East unlike anything we have seen to date.” — Jonathan Schanzer, FDD Senior Vice President for Research

“Diplomatic efforts to quiet the Lebanon-Israel frontier are laudable but misguided — resting on illusionary pillars that have been tried and failed for decades. Hezbollah will not willingly dismantle its assets and presence on the frontier, which it spent decades developing. Relying on Lebanon’s institutions to force the group to redeploy is also a non-starter, one that the deployment of 15,000 LAF troops won’t rectify. Lebanon is unwilling and unable to rein in Hezbollah because attempting to do so will lead to civil war — a price that Lebanese officials have said will always be too high to pay, irrespective of the disasters that the group and its actions are inviting upon the country.” — David Daoud, FDD Senior Fellow

Lebanese Response

Beirut objected to a provision requiring Hezbollah to dismantle infrastructure along the border, claiming the language was too broad and may affect Hezbollah-affiliated civilian institutions, Reuters reported. A Lebanese official said the French proposal was not signed or dated and therefore did not merit a response. Hezbollah also rejected the proposal, refusing to discuss “any matter related to the south” before Israel ends its counteroffensive in Gaza. Hezbollah continues to tie a resolution in southern Lebanon to the cessation of Israel’s counteroffensive in Gaza. Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah said on February 13 that “there will be a ceasefire in Lebanon only after the aggression ceases in Gaza” and that Hezbollah will “exhaust Israel until it agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza.”

American Diplomacy

U.S. Special Envoy Amos Hochstein visited Israel on February 4, where he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant about resolving the Hezbollah threat diplomatically.  

Hochstein reportedly proposed that Hezbollah withdraw eight to 10 kilometers from the border — not the full 30 kilometers required by UN Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the 2006 Lebanon war. Israel would also be required to draw down its forces along the border. Additionally, Hochstein’s framework reportedly included economic incentives for Lebanon. Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib rebuffed these efforts, saying on February 6 that Beirut “will not accept half-solutions.” He insisted on linking a solution to Hezbollah’s attacks to a broader “package deal” that would also resolve outstanding land border disputes between Lebanon and Israel.

Lebanon Rejects Proposal to Curb Hezbollah,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli Airstrikes Target Hezbollah Forces in Southern Lebanon,” FDD Flash Brief

Israeli Air Force Plans Continued Lebanon Overflights,” FDD Flash Brief


Hezbollah Israel Israel at War Lebanon