PM: Lebanon Army will Not Go South if Israel Maintains Occupation
Beirut again rejected Thursday a United Nations appeal for deploying army troops along its borders with Israel because the Jewish state still occupied Arab lands and detains Lebanese in its jails.
"Resolving the problem is not by sending the Lebanese army, but by establishing peace on the basis of an Israeli withdrawal from all Lebanese and Syrian territories," said Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
Hariri, speaking at the first parliament session expected to grant a vote of confidence to his government, said the issue could also only be settled by releasing Lebanese detained in Israel and "by giving the Palestinians their rights for a country with its capital Jerusalem."
Hariri was responding to an appeal made Wednesday by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who called on Lebanon to prevent "dangerous provocations" by deploying army troops along its border with Israel.
"Saying that we are provoking Israel is not true. The situation in the south is not stable because Israel refuses peace," said Hariri.
"The duty of Lebanon and its resistance is to regain its sons by all means that Israel understands," said Hariri, refering to the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers on October 7 by the Lebanese Shiite radical Hezbollah.
Hezbollah, which has since kidnapped a fourth Israeli with the declared aim of swapping them with Lebanese jailed in Israel, had snatched the three soldiers in an attack on the Shebaa Farms.
Israel captured the Shebaa Farms in 1967 from powerful neighbor Syria, which backs Lebanese claims to sovereignty over the area. Israel says Shebaa's fate can only be decided through a peace treaty with Damascus.
Hariri reminded that Lebanon had repeatedly called on Israel to release the 19 Lebanese it still detains in its jails despite its May 24 troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
On Wednesday, Annan said Lebanon must "assume its full international responsibilities, including putting an end to the dangerous provocations that have continued on the blue line" that separates it from Israel -- BEIRUT (AFP)
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