The political leader of Lebanon’s Druze minority Walid Jumblatt said in a Thursday interview that the disputed Shebaa Farms on the border with Israel is not Lebanese land.
“Following the liberation of South Lebanon in 2000, the Lebanese maps were altered by Lebanese officers, who collaborated with the Syrians. That is when we theoretically ‘occupied’ the Shebaa Farms and Wadi Al-Asal. This was a geographical modification on paper, not on the ground,” Jumblatt said in an interview with Russia Today TV, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“The purpose was to keep the Syrian pretext, which was upheld by others too. That the Shebaa Farms constitute Lebanese land that must be liberated by all possible means, and this is what happened,” he said.
Shebaa Farms, known in Hebrew as Mount Dov, and the adjacent Kfar Chouba hills are small patches of land captured by Israel from Syria during the Six Day War in 1967 and kept under Israel’s control since. Lebanon maintains that the strip of land is its territory, though it was under Syrian control from the 1950s until it was captured in 1967 along with the Golan Heights.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in early April that the recent US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights undermines his country’s claim to the disputed territory.
Jumblatt also said that 180,000 Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948 and their descendants lived in Lebanon. An official 2017 census found that 174,422 Palestinians lived in the country, a figure almost two-thirds lower than previous estimates of 450,000. Tens of thousands of Palestinians left Lebanon over the past several decades, seeking better opportunities abroad.
“Only 180,000 of the Palestinians who came in 1948 remained in Lebanon. The rest have emigrated. The figures are being blown up in the media by the familiar racist Lebanese right-wing,” Jumblatt said.