Lebanon can Restore Sovereignty over South without Army

Published May 30th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

The Lebanese government can restore its authority over Israeli-evacuated southern Lebanon without actually deploying its army there, Prime Minister Salim Hoss said Tuesday. 

"Those who are asking for the army to be sent to southern Lebanon should know that (UN) resolutions 425 and 426 do not specifically mention the need for an army deployment," Hoss said in a statement. Israel on the same day renewed its threat to Syria and Lebanon and Iran not to support Hizbollah in any attacks on the Jewish state. 

Both the United Nations and Israel have called on Lebanon to deploy the army in the south amid concerns that Hizbollah and other groups might renew attacks against northern Israel. 

Hoss said the UN Security Council resolutions stipulate the "efficient restoration of Lebanese sovereignty" over southern Lebanon, which was freed from 22 years of Israeli occupation on Wednesday. 

"It is worth pointing out that the Lebanese state is the only one to decide on the manner for its effective return to the region and the means it will adopt for that end," he said. 

On Tuesday also, Israel issued a fresh warning to Syria and Lebanon not to "play with fire" and accused Iran of continuing to supply arms to Hizbollah movement which has moved into south Lebanon. 

"There are efforts to push for adventures with Israel. We are warning them not to play with fire," Foreign Minister David Levy told ambassadors to Israel. 

"It is a warning that whoever is playing with fire is threatening himself and our reaction will be quite harsh," he added. 

Levy accused Iran of continuing to supply weapons to Hizbollah at this fragile time, only days after Israel completed its rushed withdrawal from Lebanon after 22 years of occupation. 

"The flow of weapons continues to come from Iran. The Iranian foreign minister (Kamal Kharazi) was the first who came to celebrate and we know the flow of weapons continues. Such desires should be abandoned," Levy said. 

He also said that Syria did not appear ready for a peace agreement, following the breakdown of negotiations in January. 

"Syria is not yet ripe for peace. We are not the only ones telling Syria not to play with fire," he said. 

Prime Minister Ehud Barak said only hours after the withdrawal was completed Wednesday that any cross-border attack on Israel would be treated as an "act of war." 

Levy reiterated the point, saying any future military action would be "much more dramatic." – (AFP) 


© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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