Shebaa Farms

From Academic Kids

Shebaa Farms is a disputed area consisting of 14 farms located south of Shebaa, a Lebanese village on the western slopes of Mount Hermon, at the corner where Syria, Lebanon and Israel meet. It is about 14 km in length and 2 km in width, at altitudes of 400 to 2,000 meters. This fertile farm land produces barley, fruits and vegetables. The village of Shebaa is not part of the Shebaa Farms area.

The region remained under Israeli control after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon.

Hezbollah leaders and the Lebanese government considers the Shebaa Farms to be part of Lebanon. Israel considers the Shebaa Farms to be part of the Golan Heights. Syrian authorities consider Shebaa Farms as part of Lebanon in contradiction to the 1949 Armistice Agreements.

Israel took control of Shebaa Farms during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, in which Syria but not Lebanon took part, and says the area is not covered by United Nations UN Security Council Resolution 425 that governs its withdrawal from southern Lebanon. This resolution asks for Israel to withdraw from Lebanon according to the line its forces were positioned at before the May 14 1978 invasion. (See: Blue Line (Lebanon))

On May 22 2000, Israel completed its withdrawal from the south of Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425 [1] (http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/d744b47860e5c97e85256c40005d01d6/e25dae8e3ce54fb5852560e50079c708!OpenDocument). The UN has certified Israel's pullout [2] (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2000/20000618.sc6878.doc.html), and regards the Shebaa Farms as occupied Syrian territory. The January 20, 2005 UN Secretary-General's report on Lebanon explicitly stated: "The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab'a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israelís withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The Government of Lebanon should heed the Councilís repeated calls for the parties to respect the Blue Line in its entirety." [3] (http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2005/sc8299.doc.htm)


Contents

Lebanon's Reservations

Lebanon and Syria regard this UN certification of the withdrawal as invalid because of Lebanon's claim to the Shebaa Farms.

However, Lebanese and Syrian officials insisted that Syria had officially granted the area of Shebaa Farms to Lebanon in 1951. Lebanese officials point to land deeds, stamped by the Lebanese government, held by a number of residents in the area.

Syria has officially acknowledged the Farms are Lebanese.

Lebanese army maps published in 1961 and 1966 specifically show several of the Shebaa Farms (including Zebdine, Fashkoul, Mougr Shebaa and Ramta) as being on the Syrian side of the border. Lebanese Ministry of Tourism maps also show the Lebanese-Syrian border running west of the Shebaa Farms, which would place Shebaa Farms to the east of the border and therefore within Syria. (See map in body of article (http://www.meib.org/articles/0105_l1.htm))

Nonetheless, the United Nations states:

"On 15 May 2000, the United Nations received a map, dated 1966, from the Government of Lebanon which reflected the Government's position that these farmlands were located in Lebanon. However, the United Nations is in possession of 10 other maps issued after 1966 by various Lebanese government institutions, including the Ministry of Defense and the army, all of which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic. The United Nations has also examined six maps issued by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including three maps since 1966, which place the farmlands inside the Syrian Arab Republic." UN Document S/2000/460 (http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.nsf/ec8db69f77e7a33e052567270057e591/97bad2289146f58a852568e9006d99bd!OpenDocument)

Origins

The dispute over the sovereignty of the Shebaa Farms originated with the failure of the French mandatory government to properly demarcate the border between Lebanon and Syria. Documents from the 1920s and 1930s show that the local inhabitants regarded themselves part of Lebanon, for example paying taxes to the Lebanese government, but that French officials often expressed confusion on the question of where the border lay. A French official in 1939 expressed the belief that the uncertainty was sure to cause trouble in the future. When detailed maps of the border region were finally prepared by the French and British military administration during WWII, they showed the region in Syria, but the commission responsible for demarcating the border did not act decisively on the dispute before the French mandate ended in 1946. When the newly formed Lebanese and Syrian governments asked the French government for official information on their common border, it was revealed that almost nothing existed. Border disputes arose frequently, leading to the formation of a joint Lebanese-Syrian border demarcation commission. That commission decided in 1964 to include the Shebaa Farms in Lebanon, but apparently no official demarcation of the border actually occurred and the older maps showing the Shebaa Farms in Syria continued to be used. The local residents continued to regard themselves as Lebanese and the Lebanese government agreed but showed little interest. However, the Syrian government imposed itself on the region, at one point forcibly replacing the villagers' Lebanese identity cards with Syrian ones. At the time of the 1967 war, the region was under effective Syrian control.

The disputed territory was not apparently mentioned by the Lebanese government after the 1967 Six Day War or the 1973 October War as an occupation issue and appears to have arisen only as a result of the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. The claim on this area provides the rationale for Hezbollah's continuing hostilities towards Israel.

External links

Reference

  • Asher Kaufman, Who owns the Shebaa Farms? Chronicle of a territorial dispute, The Middle East Journal; Autumn 2002; 56, 4; 576-596.fr:Fermes de Chebaa

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