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UN: Israel Amend Your Border
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(REUTERS) The United Nations told Israel on Wednesday to amend its border with Lebanon after cartographers found it had violated the line defining its withdrawal at one point. Timor Goksel, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told REUTERS Israel had to change the border at its northern settlement of Misgav'am before his troops could verify that the Jewish state had ended its 22-year occupation.

"The Israelis have misinterpreted the U.N. line... and the United Nations cannot accept that," Goksel said. "We have asked the Israelis to change it and are now waiting for them before sending any troops on the ground," he added.

UNIFIL was due to patrol the border area on Wednesday to ensure Israel had totally quit south Lebanon in compliance with UN resolutions.

A final verification would open the way for UNIFIL to deploy along the frontier, to maintain the relative calm that prevailed in the area since last month's withdrawal. The Lebanese government has also said it would decide about sending the army to the area only after the UN team ended its work.

In Cairo, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called on Lebanon to deploy its troops in the south, which is under de facto control of Syrian-backed Hizb'Allah guerrillas. She also called for all foreign troops to quit Lebanon, referring to the 24-year presence of the Syrian army.

On Tuesday, special envoy Terje Roed Larsen announced the United Nations had ended the first stage of its verification mission by drafting the line to which Israel must retreat.

The withdrawal line, he warned, was non-negotiable, despite objections by both Lebanon and Israel. Larsen left for New York at dawn and security sources said the Lebanese and UN teams met this afternoon for further discussions.

Both Lebanon and Israel have complained the withdrawal line does not comply with their version of the international border but Larsen said points of contention were few, with divergences ranging between 10 and 200 meters.

In the village of Ghajar, captured from Syria by Israel in 1967, hundreds of angry residents protested against the UN partition line that has divided their village in half.

(Note: The residents of Ghajar demonstrated Tuesday night and Wednesday, saying that they would die rather than have their village divided. The villagers say they own land adjacent to a neighboring kibbutz and that they are really Syrian citizens.

Village leaders claim that they are also Israeli citizens. They are demanding that the village not be divided, but remain whole either inside Lebanon or inside Israel where they enjoy relative freedom and prosperity.

During both rallies, residents burned tires and declared a general strike.)

Beirut and the United Nations also disagree on three areas along the line. Prime Minister Selim al-Hoss said the government would try and regain its land but would cooperate with the UN.

"We retain our right to claim all our occupied lands, including the Sheba Farms, and make it our responsibility to retrieve this land," Hoss said in a statement. "We also reiterate our willingness to cooperate with the United Nations."

Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, however, struck a more belligerent note. "Lebanon will not consider any diplomatic or political accord binding if Israel insists on keeping our land. If Israel does so, then we maintain our right to resort to resistance if it is necessary," he said.

The Sheba Farms is a remote area bordering Syria's occupied Golan Heights. Israel said it seized it from Syria in 1967 but both Beirut and its political master Damascus say it is Lebanese land. Hizb'Allah guerrillas, which led the fight to evict Israel from the south, had vowed to keep battling the Jewish state if it did not quit Shebaa.

The United Nations found some Israeli encroachments in the area but concluded most of the territory was shown on official documents as inside Syria. The United Nations has ordered the removal of any Israeli encroachments and a REUTERS reporter on Wednesday saw Israelis shifting the border.

Sheba falls under UN resolutions on the Golan Heights, which Syria has been trying to recover since Israel invaded in 1967.

Syria and Israel have held halting negotiations on the status of the Golan but the latest round -- which started in December -- was suspended indefinitely.

Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara, however, told reporters after meeting Albright in Cairo that his country would work with the United States to revive the negotiations.

The AP reported, in general, the border region has been relatively quiet since the IDF withdrawal, although Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday warned that Syria might try to re-ignite south Lebanon by using proxies to launch cross-border attacks on Israel.

Barak said in Ma'alot that the Lebanese army had not deployed in south Lebanon, probably because of Syrian pressure. "There is [apparently] a Syrian attempt to recruit Palestinian activists and send them to act against Israel and if this happens we will know what to do," said Barak. Any such attacks on Israel from Lebanon would be tantamount to an act of war, he said.

Meanwhile, the Beirut military court on Monday gave light prison terms ranging from one to 30 months to former South Lebanese Army soldiers who surrendered, and some were released after being fined. The severest sentence five years.

News agency reports said that the relatively light sentences were seen as a signal to the over 6,000 other former SLA members and other residents of the zone who fled to Israel after the withdrawal that they should also consider returning to their homes. A group of about 24 mainly women did cross the border at the Rosh Hanikra crossing point Tuesday and returned to Lebanon.

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