In recent hours, the United States and the European Union accelerated diplomatic efforts to stop the escalation of the war in Gaza, which threatens to spread to other countries in the region. The possible opening of a new war front on the border between Israel and Lebanon seems closer than ever, after Tel Aviv killed the number two of the political wing of Hamas, Saleh el Arouri, in a drone attack in Beirut on Tuesday. . The Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah party – a member of the so-called Axis of Resistance against Israel, along with Iran and Hamas – has promised retaliation, although for the moment it has shown restraint. Israel, for its part, has intensified its attacks in southern Lebanon since Tuesday, causing the death of a dozen Hezbollah militants and hitting important infrastructure of the organization in the territory.

Given this scenario, the head of EU Foreign Policy, Josep Borrell, began a brief three-day tour this Friday, which begins in Lebanon and will end in Israel, to try to de-escalate the situation on the border shared by these two countries. Borrell seeks to emphasize the importance of avoiding a regional escalation, according to the EU in a statement. At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked on his fourth trip to the Middle East since the war between Israel and Hamas began in October. Blinken will visit Israel, Egypt, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, to discuss the recent increase in hostilities in the region. A day earlier, the White House diplomatic envoy, Amos Hochstein, arrived in Tel Aviv and tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the Israeli authorities to reduce the attacks in southern Lebanon. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told Hochstein on Thursday that Israel prefers a diplomatic solution, but that there is “a short window of time” to find one, according to statements published in a statement. “We will not tolerate the threats posed by Hezbollah and will ensure the safety of our citizens,” he said.

Israel is pressing for Hezbollah to withdraw at least 30 kilometers into Lebanese territory, so that Israeli populations displaced by the fighting can return to their homes. Tel Aviv clings to a United Nations resolution agreed upon after the 2006 war, which establishes a completely unarmed border buffer zone. However, Hezbollah has stressed on several occasions that they have no intention of withdrawing from the border, despite Israeli pressure and US diplomatic efforts.

The leader of the Lebanese party, Hasan Nasrallah, celebrated in a new speech on Friday the pressure of the Axis of Resistance against Israel. “We have to put pressure from anywhere we can, to put pressure on the enemy, to stop the aggression on Gaza,” Nasrallah said. The Hezbollah leader alluded to attacks by pro-Iran forces in Iraq against American soldiers, and suggested that after winning the war in Gaza, the United States should be expelled from Iraq. Nasrallah noted that the attack on Israel on October 7 has “opened the door to the total liberation of Lebanon” from Israeli occupation, although he clarified that this can only take place when the Gaza war ends.

The Israeli Administration, for its part, is engaged in a discussion over who will administer Gaza after the war. Defense Minister Gallant outlined a proposal for the Strip with limited Palestinian rule, in which Israel would retain control of the territory’s security. Gallant described that a “multinational force” could be tasked with rebuilding territory destroyed by Israeli bombing, without giving further details, while giving certain responsibilities to a local administration. “The residents of Gaza are Palestinians, therefore the Palestinian bodies will be in charge, on the condition that there are no hostile actions or threats against the State of Israel,” Gallant said.

The Palestinian Authority – which governs the West Bank – “unequivocally rejects” the plan proposed by Gallant, which refers to “anonymous Palestinian organizations” and allows the continuation of the Israeli presence in the territory, it said in a statement transmitted by the Palestinian agency Wafa. The post-war scenarios have created tensions in the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu, because certain sectors advocate for a Gaza governed by a Palestinian authority with Israel controlling security, while the most radical branch of the Government supports resettling the Gazan population outside this territory.