US envoy in Israel in bid to calm situation with Hezbollah

US special envoy Amos Hochstein meets with Lebanon's caretaker prime minister in Beirut on Jan. 11, 2024, amid continuing tensions on the Lebanese-Israeli border. (Joseph Eid/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

U.S. diplomat Amos Hochstein has traveled to the Middle East in a bid to ease tensions between Israel and Hezbollah, which are threatening to spiral into a full-blown war across the Lebanese border.

Hezbollah has traded fire with Israel almost daily since the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on the south of the country, which triggered the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Both groups are backed by Iran and designated as terrorist organizations by the U.S.


Hochstein, who has visited Israel and Lebanon several times in recent months to try and mediate a resolution, will meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and President Isaac Herzog, according to Israeli officials. He will also hold talks with opposition leader Yair Lapid before going on to Beirut, the Yediot Ahronot newspaper reported Monday.

Hochstein confirmed he is in Israel on Monday. The U.S. and France are leading efforts to broker a deal to ensure Hezbollah and Israel don’t go to war.

Hochstein is planning to meet Benny Gantz, chairman of the opposition National Unity Party, a spokesman for the party said. Gantz joined Netanyahu’s emergency government following the Hamas attack in October, though resigned last week after criticizing the prime minister’s strategy and accusing him of not doing enough to secure the release of hostages held in Gaza.

Netanyahu is now, as expected, dissolving the three-member war cabinet that was formed when Gantz joined the government, an Israeli official confirmed. The prime minister will continue to consult with a small number of participants, Ynet reported, without saying where it got the information or who they would be.

Hezbollah rockets and drones have caused significant damage and casualties in Israel in recent months, and authorities have evacuated tens of thousands of residents from towns and villages in the north of the country.

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