Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah doesn't "have a clue what democracy is," Vice Premier Shimon Peres said Saturday in response to Nasrallah's predictions that Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would eventually follow in IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's footsteps and resign. "A democracy knows how to fix mistakes, whereas undemocratic regimes, like the ones Nasrallah knows, hide them," Peres told Israel Radio. Peres said he believed Israel would overcome its current difficulties, while Hizbullah would only "sink deeper." On Friday, Nasrallah said that the resignation of Halutz proved that his group had won the July-August war with Israel, and forecast that the country's defense and prime ministers would also have to resign.
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"It is natural and logical that [Defense Minister Amir] Peretz should fall. I expect him to resign. He will be the next victim," Nasrallah said in an interview on Hizbullah's Al-Manar television station.
He predicted that Olmert would also pay the price of Israel's failure to crush Hizbullah and secure the release of its soldiers in the 34-day war. "In the end, [Olmert] will either resign or be overthrown," Nasrallah said.
Halutz resigned Wednesday, saying he had to take responsibility for the failures of the summer's war. Internal inquiries by the IDF found widespread problems in the forces' performance during the conflict.
Nasrallah said that Halutz's resignation showed that Hizbullah achieved a "historic, strategic victory" over the Israelis. "What is happening now confirms that," Nasrallah said, adding that when he heard of the resignation, "I felt happiness."
He said the deterrent power of the Israeli armed forces had "collapsed."
"There is a crisis of confidence in the Israeli army, unprecedented since its inception," he said.
In a separate development, Nasrallah promised Friday evening that his opposition alliance would intensify its campaign to bring down the government, pledging to mount an "effective" action in the coming days.
Nasrallah told al-Manar that Hizbullah's consultations with its allies were drawing to a close and they would release a statement shortly that spelled out the steps to be taken.
"I believe this action will be effective, very important and very big," he said. He would not divulge the plan but urged all Lebanese to support it.
Hizbullah and its allies have staged street protests and sit-ins, camping outside the prime minister's office, since December 1 in a bid to topple the government of Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
Newspapers have said if Hizbullah steps up the campaign, it is likely to employ tactics such as a general strike and the blocking of major roads. When asked if the opposition would close roads, Beirut port or airport, Nasrallah declined to respond.
He said the campaign would remain non-violent, as has generally been the case. One person was shot dead in a street clash, but the protests have been largely peaceful.
Nasrallah said Hizbullah would never use weapons in its political struggle in Lebanon, repeating that the group's arms were for fighting Israel.