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Israel OKs pullout from Lebanon border village

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By Associated Press

GHAJAR, Golan Heights (AP) — Israel on Wednesday approved the withdrawal of troops from the northern half of a village that straddles the border with Lebanon — a step that would end its four-year presence in the volatile area.

The pullout, expected to take place in the coming weeks, would resolve a key dispute between the two countries that has simmered since Israel reoccupied northern Ghajar during the war with Lebanese Hezbollah militants in 2006.

In a statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the Security Cabinet, a decision-making group of senior government ministers, had approved the pullout "in principle." It said Israeli diplomats would work with the U.N. peacekeeping force that patrols the border zone in southern Lebanon to make final arrangements. Israel wants to be sure that Hezbollah — and its arsenal of rockets and other weapons — is kept out of the village.

Netanyahu presented the plan last week to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York.

Ghajar is a village of 2,200 people that lies in a strategic corner where the boundaries of Syria, Israel and Lebanon are in dispute. More than 1,500 residents live in the northern half.


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