Hochstein to visit Israel and Lebanon on 'urgent mission'


The fears that Israel “might expand the war in south Lebanon” have prompted U.S. mediator Amos Hochstein to plan an urgent visit to Tel Aviv and Beirut, a media report said.

Delegated by “the U.S. administration,” Hochstein will be on “an urgent mission aimed at containing the confrontation between Israel and Hezbollah and keeping it under control,” Asharq al-Awsat newspaper quoted a Western diplomatic source as saying.

“The U.S. mediator’s visit to Tel Aviv on Monday, from which he will move to Beirut, was not on his agenda and had been related to the ceasefire in Gaza that is still faltering,” the source added.

“But he was obliged to return hurriedly, because the U.S. efforts to prevent Israel from expanding the war to include south Lebanon have so far run into the rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war aides of Washington’s desire not to expand the confrontation that is ongoing with Hezbollah,” the source went on to say.

Asharq al-Awsat also noted that Hochstein’s upcoming visit to Beirut has coincided with U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson’s return to Beirut.

The ambassador “met with caretaker Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib on Thursday night and evaluated with him the raging situation in the south, which reached its peaks over the past hours, and what can be done to keep it under control and preventing it from descending into an expanded war, especially that Washington says that it will not provide a political cover for its expansion,” the daily added.

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