Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday that the situation on the country's northern border with Lebanon was "delicate," amid warnings by his military intelligence chief of a possible flare-up in the region.
"The situation on the Lebanese border is very delicate due to the Lebanese governments failure to implement UN Security Council Resolution 425," Barak told visiting German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, his office said in a statement.
Israel has accused Lebanon of failing to ensure the security of the region in line with the resolution following the Jewish state's May withdrawal from its northern neighbor after 22 years of occupation.
In October, Shiite Muslim Hizbollah guerrillas abducted three Israeli soldiers from a disputed border areas and, in November, a soldier was killed in a roadside bombing claimed by the movement.
Germany is involved in mediation to try to secure the release of the soldiers, seized by Hizbollah in a bid to win the freedom of Lebanese detainees held in Israel.
Israeli military intelligence chief Amos Malice warned at a security conference of a possible flare-up in the north.
"We are on a course where Hizbollah is testing Israel's policy of response," he said.
Barak also voiced concern to Scharping over continuing attempts by Iran to develop both weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them, the statement said.
Iran, which backs Hizbollah, does not recognize the state of Israel.
On the Palestinian front, Barak reiterated Israel's position that a resolution of the conflict "can only be achieved by negotiations and not through violence.
"A genuine effort is being made in Washington to reduce the violence and consider ways to resume the negotiations," he added, referring to US President Bill Clinton's latest bid to revive peacemaking after almost three months of deadly violence.
During their meeting, Barak told Scharping that Germany's "balanced policy" had contributed to regional stability, "especially during this sensitive period."
Scharping is on a two-day visit to the Jewish state. Germany is the European country that has provided the most financial aid for Israel, and the two have close security ties -- JERUSALEM (AFP)
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