Contested Israeli-occupied area Lebanese, says Israeli academic

Shaba’a Farms is a small area occupied by Israel adjacent to the Golan Heights, which is part of Syria and occupied by Israel since 1967. Hezbollah claims the Farms are part of Lebanon, and uses this claim to justify its continued armed resistance, and confrontational posture with Israel, as it points out all of Lebanon is not liberated as long as Shaba’a is occupied. The UN believes the area is part of Syria, and in resolution 1559 calls for the disarmament of all Lebanese factions.

In a March 2 interview on al-Jazeera, Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt takes advantage of the current anti-Syrian climate and upheaval in Lebanon to pressure Hezbollah to disarm:

"What are these [Hizbullah] fighters doing for us? They want the Shaba Farms. Let the Syrians present documentation that the farms are even part of Lebanon. The Israelis say that they were taken from Syria and we have no proof of anything. And what will happen after the Shaba situation? Will Hizbullah’s people continue to walk around armed in Lebanon and serve the Syrians?" (Jerusalem Post, March 4)

However, according to a June 6, 2002 article in Ha’aretz, an Israeli academic, Dr. Asher Kaufman, discovered in the Cartographic Institute in Paris documentation that shows Shaba’a farms were indeed part of Lebanon:

"All the documents found by Kaufman from the period of the French Mandate over Syria and Lebanon, and which was supposed to mark the border between Lebanon and Syria, back up the Lebanese argument about the border, which they say goes through what they refer to as Wadi al-‘Assal, and Israel refers to as Nahal Si’on. That line clearly leaves Shaba Farms about a kilometer or two inside Lebanon." (Ha’aretz, June 26, 2002)

Dr. Kaufman agrees with the Israeli security establishment that Hezbollah would find another pretext to continue the conflict, even if Shaba’a was proved not to be Lebanese. Nevertheless, he says Israel is erroneous in claiming the land is Syrian.