Shimon Peres 311.
(photo credit: AP)
President Shimon Peres met at Beit Hanassi on Monday with the heads of peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon, the Golan Heights and Sinai.
It was the first meeting of its kind between the president and the commanders of the various multi-national forces.
Those attending the meeting included Maj.-Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas, a Spanish military officer who commands the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Maj.-Gen. Natalio C. Ecarma III, a career officer from the Philippines, who is United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) Commander in the Golan Heights, Maj.-Gen. Robert Mood, commander of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) and previously chief of staff of the Norwegian Army, and Maj.-Gen. Warren Whiting of the New Zealand Defense Force, who commands the Multinational Force Observers (MFO) in Sinai.
UNTSO provides military observers to Observer Group Lebanon, supporting UNIFIL; Observer Group Golan, supporting UNDOF; and Observer Group Egypt in Sinai.
Peres thanked his guests, saying they were doing sterling work in helping to prevent warfare.
Israel has great respect for the commanders of the peacekeeping forces and the soldiers under their commands, and greatly appreciates their presence in the region, the president said.
Peres told his visitors that he understood that none of them had an easy task.
Even though Israel was sometimes critical of the conduct of these forces, on the whole they conducted themselves very fairly and the Middle East would not look the same without their presence, he said.
Yet for all that, Peres noted, terrorism still hovers over the Middle
East as an ever present threat to peace endeavors, and Israel cannot
close its eyes to the reality of the clusters of terrorists headed by
Hamas and Hizbullah that are lurking on its borders.
All four commanders assured Peres that they regarded their assignments
as an important mission, and that they were no less interested than
Israel in keeping the peace.
They shared some of their experiences with the president and also posed several questions related to policy and security.