Lieberman: 'Hizbullah is extorting, threatening the world'

Foreign minister says "situation in Lebanon is a test for the nations of the world"; IDF in north on high alert over fears of violence.

January 13, 2011 19:34
1 minute read.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman 311 (do not publish again). (photo credit: Flash 90)

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman during a visit to Greece on Thursday said that the situation in Lebanon is a test for the nations of the world.

"This is an additional example of the extortion and threats Hizbullah uses on the international community," Lieberman told Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou. "Their aim is to prevent the publication of the findings of the international investigation into [former Lebanese prime minister Rafik] Hariri's murder."


'Lebanon turmoil unlikely to descend into clash'
Hizbullah topples Lebanese gov't ahead of Hariri findings

The Lebanese government collapsed on Wednesday after Hizbullah and its allies pulled out over differences stemming from the UN investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri's father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

The IDF raised the level of alert along the northern border on Thursday as Lebanon sunk deeper into political disarray, which some officers fear could lead to escalated violence in the North.

While IDF assessments are that Hizbullah is currently not interested in a renewed conflict with Israel, it is possible that the guerilla group will attack Israel to divert attention away from the publication of the Hariri tribunal’s findings, expected in the near future.

“We need to be prepared for every possible scenario,” one senior officer said.

At the moment, the IDF has not called up reservists and has held back from significantly beefing up forces along the border but troops stationed there have been asked to be more vigilant on routine patrols.

Meanwhile Thursday, the IDF caught a Lebanese man who crossed the border. He was taken for questioning and UNIFIL was updated about this arrest. It appeared that he had crossed the border accidentally at an area where the border is not clear marked.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement on Thursday, saying she was "concerned by the situation in Lebanon."

"I want to reiterate our support for the Government of National Unity. I call on all political actors to work constructively to seek a negotiated solution to the current situation. Dialogue and stability are essential to respond to today's events in the interest of the Lebanese people."

Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.

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