Nasrallah: Israel needs Olmert to quit

Hizbullah leader says Winograd report ends argument about who won war.

jp.services2 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
"I respected former prime minister Ariel Sharon, but Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must quit," said Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on Wednesday at the opening of a book fair in a rebuilt south Beirut neighborhood complex that had been leveled by IAF warplanes during last summer's war. Nasrallah described Sharon as someone who "led Israeli society," adding that Israel could not allow a leader like Olmert to continue. "I will not gloat," he said. "It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by Olmert condemns him. Even though they're our enemies, it is worthy of respect that the political forces and the Israeli public act quickly to save their state, entity, army and their existence from the crisis." Nasrallah went on to say that the Winograd Report ended the argument about who won and lost the war. "There are those in Israel who say they won and there are those who say they lost. This committee has concluded that they lost," he said, noting the word "lost' appeared more than 100 times in the report. "The most important thing that Winograd has concluded is that Israelis say: 'We were defeated,'" exclaimed Nasrallah. The Shi'ite cleric ridiculed Defense Minister Amir Peretz. "Peretz said that 'Nasrallah would never forget the name Amir Peretz.' I say to him, you were right, I will not forget that name." Lebanese Prime Minister Faud Saniora, meanwhile, did not offer any praise for Israel and instead called on the deeply divided Lebanon to unite. He warned that Israel could be planning future attacks to restore its credibility. "I call on my Lebanese brothers to unite in the face of what Israel might be seeking to launch against Lebanon," Saniora said. Saniora criticized the Israeli report for failing to address the destruction, estimated at more than $5 billion, inflicted on Lebanon by the IAF and naval bombardment as well as the ground incursion during the war. The report on the "unjust war... did not make a single mention of the massive material, human losses and destruction Israel inflicted on Lebanon," Saniora said. Nasrallah also took issue with the Lebanese government, which he claims has not taken the steps to investigate its side of conflict. "When the enemy entity acts honestly and sincerely even if its cause is unjust we cannot but respect it, especially when we look at the other [Lebanese] side which does not investigate, does not study and does not hold [anyone] accountable and does not form investigative commissions as if nothing has happened," he said. The Hizbullah leader also lamented the divisions within his country and the region. "It is regretful that we the Arab world and Lebanon are waiting for an Israeli commission to settle this dispute for us and to tell us 'Seriously, you have won and we [Israelis] were defeated,"' Nasrallah said. Meanwhile, reaction to the report's damning criticism continued in southern Lebanon Tuesday with Hizbullah supporters holding fireworks displays and celebrations in the streets. New clips were aired on Hizbullah-run and Syrian television channels showing rockets fired into Israel during the war and images of wounded IDF soldiers. They also broadcast propaganda videos with the words: "Israel kills children" against the backdrop of wounded Lebanese kids.