Lieberman: Hezbollah could soon provoke Israel

Foreign Minister tells UNSC ambassadors that Lebanese group could spark conflict to draw world attention away from Syria.

February 9, 2012 19:28
1 minute read.
Hezbollah supporters in Beirut [file]

Hezbollah supporters in Beirut 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told a group of ambassadors from UN Security Council member-states that Hezbollah could strike up conflict with Israel to divert international attention from Syrian President Bashar Assad's crackdown of protesters.

"We hope this doesn't happen, but Israel will be ready to respond if it does," he told the ambassadors in New York.

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Residents and non-governmental human rights organizations have reported the deaths of hundreds of people over the last week in the Syrian city of Homs. Over 5,500 people have lost their lives since the start of the protests last March.

The international community has reacted in a number of ways to Assad's crackdown; the Arab League sent a monitoring mission to Syria in an attempt to slow the killings, which proved ineffectual. Meanwhile, Western countries have pushed for action at the United Nations Security Council, but a resolution calling on Assad to relinquish power was vetoed this month by Russia and China, both of whom are decrying foreign intervention in internal Syrian affairs while calling for democratic reform.

During the meeting with UN security council ambassadors, Lieberman also decried a recent reconciliation agreement signed between rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah. He said that Israel will not accept a Palestinian government which includes Hamas while the organization continues to deny Israel's right to exist and rejects the Quartet peace conditions. He added that the reconciliation agreement signed in Doha serves the personal interests of PA President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal while ignoring the interests of the Palestinian people.

Lieberman also referenced Iran, saying that the regime constitutes the greatest threat to world peace. He also expressed his hope that recently imposed international sanctions on the country would cause Tehran to reconsider its nuclear drive, but stated that, barring that outcome, Israel will continue to leave all options on the table.

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