Weekly Update

After decades of conflict, Saudi Arabia and Yemen signed an agreement on June 19, 2000, to end their border dispute. United Nations (UN) Secretary General Kofi Annan declared that Israel has completely pulled out of Lebanon, a milestone in the history of the region. The UN created a line to verify the Israeli withdrawal, though it doesn't exactly match the 1923 border that Israel, Lebanon, and the UN all recognize will be the basis for the final boundary. Currently, UN and Lebanese survey teams are working together to mark the Israeli-Lebanese border according to 1923 maps.

"Borders are important because every inch is the difference between occupied or liberated land," said Brig. Gen. Amin Hoteit of the Lebanese Army. "Establishing borders in the Middle East means bringing peace to these countries," said Vladamir Bessarabov, a Russian cartographer with the UN. "Until very recently, Israel did not have any borders here, and this part of the Lebanon-Syria border was never fully defined."

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978, establishing a nine-mile deep occupation zone in southern Lebanon in a bid to stop cross-border attacks. In recent years, increasing casualties led Israeli public opinion to favor a pullout, which Prime Minister Ehud Barak carried out abruptly on May 24 as Israel's allied Lebanese militia crumbled. Many lines have been fluid over the decades, changing in 1948, 1967, 1973, 1978, 1979, 1982 and during the 1990s as the Jewish state conquered, lost or returned Arab territory for peace. Now there is another line, which signifies an historical agreement.