Peretz: IAF to overfly Lebanon until soldiers back

UNIFIL commander has threatened to shoot down IAF planes if flights persist.

October 24, 2006 00:20
1 minute read.
Peretz: IAF to overfly Lebanon until soldiers back

iaf planes 298 88 idf. (photo credit: IDF)

"It is our right to conduct overflights of Lebanon as long as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 is not implemented, and this includes the return of the kidnapped soldiers," Defense Minister Amir Peretz told a business conference in Tel Aviv on Monday. The comments came after a diplomatic spat with France that began on Friday when French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie told a news conference that the violations of Lebanese air space could provide an excuse for others not to obey the cease-fire imposed by 1701. Alliot-Marie said the overflights were "extremely dangerous" because French-led UNIFIL peacekeepers on the ground could see them as hostile acts and fire in self-defense. Senior cabinet members have promised that the overflights will continue, without linking them to the fate of kidnapped IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. "A central problem in our region has been the disconnect between sovereignty and responsibility," Peretz told business leaders at the Israel Center for Management's annual conference. While "Lebanese Prime Minister [Fuad Saniora] is sovereign over [all] Lebanon... in his mind he is only responsible for Beirut's tourism," Peretz said. This was also true on the Palestinian front, the defense minister said. "The moment we recognized a distinction between sovereignty and responsibility, this gave legitimacy to every [Palestinian] faction [to carry out attacks]." However, Peretz said, "Today the Lebanese government recognizes its responsibilities, even if we're skeptical over the success [of its implementation]." Speaking briefly of the IDF's operations in the Gaza Strip, Peretz said, "We've witnessed an upgrade in the weaponry [possessed by terrorists], and we must treat this seriously." While he promised not to "limit the IDF operationally in dealing with this," he reiterated that Israel had "no intention of reoccupying Gaza." Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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