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Official: Israel to pull out of strategic border town

From Shira Medding, CNN
Israeli soldiers take their positions in the village of Ghajar on November 10, 2010.
Israeli soldiers take their positions in the village of Ghajar on November 10, 2010.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Final plan must still be approved by Israeli ministers
  • Agreement would remove Israeli troops from northern section of Ghajar
  • Troops have occupied the entire border town since 2006
  • The community of 2,300 is located where Israel, Lebanon and Syria come together
RELATED TOPICS
  • Israel
  • Syria

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Israel's security cabinet tentatively accepted a plan to withdraw the nation's troops from the strategic border town of Ghajar, one of the Mideast's more complicated locations, Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser said Wednesday.

The Foreign Ministry has been authorized to finalize details with the United Nations as soon as possible, Hauser said in a statement.

Final approval of the plan would bring Israel in line with a U.N. Security Council resolution that ended Israel's war with Hezbollah in southern Lebanon in 2006.

Ghajar was a Syrian village that Israel took control of after the 1967 war and its residents took Israeli citizenship in 1981. In 2000, the United Nations drew the border line between Israel and Lebanon through the middle of village.

During the 2006 war, Israel retook control of the northern half of Ghajar, which it maintains to this day. The town sits on the border between Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Israel has cited security concerns for its continued control of the northern part of the village.

Under an agreement negotiated with the United Nations, Israeli soldiers would secure the southern part of the village, while U.N. soldiers would assume security responsibility for the northern part.

The villagers in Ghajar say the community of 2,300 belongs to neither Lebanon, nor Israel, but instead is in Syria.

"We demand today the return of al-Ghajar village with both parts, north and south as one village with all its land to Syria," according to village spokesman Najib al Khatib.