Defense officials: War in 2007 unlikely

Gov't to receive annual security briefing on Sunday; Shin Bet pessimistic.

February 23, 2007 11:20
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Defense and security officials were expected to present to the government on Sunday the annual security assessment, according to which a war in 2007 is unlikely. Despite the general estimate that chances for actual hostilities are slim, the Shin Bet does not anticipate diplomatic progress, and does expect a cessation to the current internecine violence in the Palestinian Authority. The expected security briefing follows a week of contradictions in the reports of defense and security officials. On Monday, Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz, head of Military Intelligence's Research Division, told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hizbullah has 'returned to its pre-war capabilities and has even become stronger.' 'Hizbullah is building up more firepower than it had before the war,' Baidatz said. 'Some of this ordnance has arrived, and some is still en route from Syria.' Baidatz was asked more than once by committee members if he meant that Hizbullah now had more firepower than before the war, and he responded in the affirmative until Defense Minister Amir Peretz interrupted. 'Hizbullah has not increased its strength but merely its potential,' said Peretz. Baidatz then retracted his previous statement and told MKs that he agreed with Peretz. Meanwhile, Baidatz told committee members that Syria was preparing its military for a confrontation with Israel. Sheera Claire Frenkel contributed to this report.

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