'Rice wrong on Mount Dov'

Shalom: US making a mistake by pressing Israel to give up area.

shalom pensive 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
shalom pensive 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was wrong to advise Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to begin negotiations with Lebanon over the withdrawal of the IDF from the Mount Dov (Shaba Farms) area, former foreign minister Silvan Shalom (Likud) said Thursday. The Jerusalem Post reported exclusively on Thursday that the US was counseling Israel to negotiate a withdrawal from the 160-square-kilometer parcel of land, located where the borders of Israel, Lebanon and Syria meet, as part of a long-term arrangement for Lebanon. "The Americans are making a big mistake," Shalom said. "There is no way to justify the demands of the Hizbullah for Israel to give Lebanon the Shaba Farms area, because this territory was Syrian until 1967 and it should be discussed with Syria when the time will come to negotiating on a peace treaty with them. This concession would be translated by the Hizbullah and Arabs as a victory against Israelis surrendering territory again." Meretz MK Ran Cohen said Israel could and should negotiate the fate of Mount Dov with the Lebanese government as part of a cease-fire accord, in a way that would strengthen the Lebanese government and not allow Hizbullah to take credit for the pullout. The United Nations recognizes Har Dov as part of Israeli occupied Syria because Israel captured the area in the Six Day War. But Meretz leader Yossi Beilin said that if giving the area to Lebanon would help bring about the disarming of Hizbullah, it would be in Israel's best interest. Beilin slammed the security cabinet's decision to extend the ground operations in Lebanon and draft more reservists. He said the government played into the hands of Hizbullah and it should have instead decided to begin immediate cease-fire talks. Science and Technology, Culture and Sport Minister Ophir Paz-Pines voted against the decision because he said he was against recapturing Lebanon with ground forces. Paz-Pines was the only minister who voted against it. But officials present in the meeting said there were many more vocal disagreements among the ministers and between ministers and generals who argued over the scope of ground incursions into Lebanon. Shalom said the cabinet ministers and the generals were each "preparing their alibis" in case the operations in Lebanon were unsuccessful. He accused Paz-Pines and other Labor ministers of never recovering from their trauma over the 1982 Lebanon war. "You can't put an end to the firing of rockets without ground operations," Shalom said. "We can't find the rocket launchers without getting in."