Peres: Kidnapped troops alive and well

Deputy PM says Arab planes allowed to deliver aid to Lebanon during war.

peres good 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
peres good 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres said Wednesday that "to the best of my information," the two IDF soldiers abducted by Hizbullah "are alive and they are healthy." Peres, who was holding talks with US officials, also disclosed that planes from Arab countries had been permitted during the war to fly over Israel on their way to Lebanon to deliver food and medicine. He declined to provide any details, such as which countries had overflights and how many flights were permitted by Israel. "Most of the Arab countries had double-feelings," Peres said. "They didn't want Hizbullah to win." On Lebanese civilian casualties, Peres said Israel had made a 100 percent effort to avoid hurting Lebanese civilians. He said Hizbullah, in violation of international law, "used human shelters to hide their arms." Despite his optimism regarding the kidnapped soldiers, the deputy prime minister was dubious as to whether US civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson could succeed as an intermediary between Israel and Syria to arrange an exchange of prisoners with Hizbullah. "You need two parts that want peace; unfortunately there is only one," he said. Peres, who met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday, said, "Americans believe the battle now is over the future of Lebanon - an Iranian Lebanon or a Lebanese Lebanon. They believe, like us, Lebanon must not be handed to Hizbullah." Peres said Hizbullah gets $100 million (€78.1 million) a year from Iran as well as training from Iranians on Lebanese territory.