Israel prefers diplomacy to end Hezbollah conflict, security adviser says

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel will spend the coming weeks trying to resolve the conflict with Lebanon's Iran-backed group Hezbollah and would prefer a diplomatic solution, Israel's national security adviser said on Tuesday.

National security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said Israel had been discussing with U.S. officials the possibility that an expected end of intense Israeli military operations in Gaza would allow an "arrangement" to be reached with Hezbollah.

Iran-backed Hezbollah began attacking Israel from the north shortly after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas' Oct. 7 assault on southern Israel, which sparked the war in Gaza.

Shelling on Israel's northern border has led to the evacuation of tens of thousands of people from areas on both sides of the frontier, and has escalated in recent weeks, leading to fears of an all-out conflict.

"We and the Americans believe and we will dedicate weeks now in an attempt to reach an arrangement," Hanegbi said at the Herzliya conference.

"If there will not be an arrangement through diplomatic means, everyone understands that there must be an arrangement through other means. For now we prefer to focus on the diplomatic campaign," he said.

Hanegbi also said Israel was discussing with Washington a possible joint effort by the United States, European and some Arab countries to find a replacement for Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip.

(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Edmund Blair and Peter Graff)