Report: Israel, Hizbollah Hold Secret Talks

Published May 9th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israel held secret talks with Hizbollah last month that ultimately were derailed by the Syrians, a European radio station is to reveal Tuesday, based on sources close to the negotiations, according to Jerusalem Post in Tuesday’s issue.  

The Israeli daily quoted the sources as saying Israel asked for a seven-day cease-fire in south Lebanon, offering in exchange to release 20 prisoners from Khiam Prison, as well as the bodies of seven Hizbollah fighters being held by Israel. The Red Cross reportedly was mediating the deal when Syrian pressure derailed it.  

The timing of the negotiations coincided with the failed summit between US President Bill Clinton and Syrian President Hafez Assad, and, according to the sources, was going on with tacit Syrian agreement until after the summit.  

Israeli officials had no comment on the report, due to be released today on Europe One radio.  

Meanwhile, in the clearest signal yet of his apprehension about the fate of his militiamen, South Lebanese Army commander Gen. Antoine Lahd yesterday called on Lebanese President Emile Lahoud to grant amnesty to all members of the force and their families - except himself.  

Lahd has in the past demanded Lebanese government guarantees that his militiamen not be harmed after an Israeli withdrawal. But this was his first  

Israeli warplanes twice struck at Hizbollah targets near Soujud in the eastern sector and in Wadi Kisiyeh, in the central region, north of the security zone.  

The air raids followed long-range mortar and artillery shelling by Hizbollah gunmen of IDF and SLA outposts in the western and eastern regions. There were no casualties and IDF and SLA gunners returned fire.  

Israel also submitted yet another complaint yesterday to the Grapes of Wrath monitoring group over Hizbollah firing from villages north of the zone. This follows other protests over the Katyusha rocket attacks on Galilee communities last Thursday and Friday – Albawaba.com 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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