Israeli minister warns of new war with Hezbollah

JERUSALEM - Israel is heading toward a new war with Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah, a cabinet minister warned Saturday in remarks carried by military radio and the popular Ynet news website.
"We are heading toward a new confrontation in the north but I don't know when it will happen, just as we did not know when the second Lebanon war would erupt," said Yossi Peled, a minister without portfolio and a reserve army general.

An Israeli soldier patrols the border with Lebanon
An Israeli soldier patrols the border with Lebanon
He was referring to the devastating war Israel fought with Hezbollah in 2006, which killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, most of them civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.
Hezbollah is part of a new coalition government formed in November by US- and Saudi-backed Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. The group is also the only faction still armed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.
"Although Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government, the latter has no influence on it," Peled said, adding the Jewish state will hold Hezbollah and its ally Syria responsible for any attack on Israel.
"Unlike many others (officials) I consider that peace is not a goal in itself but only a means to guarantee our existence," said Peled.
Israeli officials have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that any attack by Hezbollah would be met with a strong response.
Last week Defence Minister Ehud Barak warned Lebanon and Hezbollah against any attempt to undermine the "calm" prevailing at the border between the two countries.
But in a statement issued on Saturday after Peled made his comments, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed that "Israel does not wish at all to have a confrontation with Lebanon."
The Jewish state seeks "peace with Lebanon and with all its neighbours," the statement added.

Sunday, January 24th 2010

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