Nasrallah: War led Israel to negotiate with Syria

Hizbullah leader says "the outcome of the Second Lebanon War affected Israel and the entire region."

Nasrallah 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Nasrallah 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday claimed that "Israel's failure in the Second Lebanon War led it to change its policy, from waging war with Syria to negotiating with it." Speaking on Lebanese television in a special broadcast marking two years since the end of the Second Lebanon War, Nasrallah said that the outcome of the war "affected Israel and the entire region." Nasrallah said that in the war, Hizbullah succeeded in defeating the strongest army in the area, which was supported by the US. He also ridiculed Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who served as prime minister during the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, claiming that Hizbullah forced Israel to withdraw from southern Lebanon ahead of schedule. The Hizbullah leader went on to say that keeping the group's arsenal a "secret" was part of its battle against Israel and that his guerrillas wouldn't be frightened by Israeli threats to attack Lebanon. "There has been an Israeli uproar about the reinforcement of Hizbullah's strength. There has been talk of sophisticated arms and an air defense system and threats if Hizbullah uses this kind of system," Nasrallah said. "No one can expect me to stand up and say (whether) we possess new weapons or we don't," he added. "Keeping (weapons) secret is part of ... (Hizbullah's) strength. This is part of directing the battle of liberation and resistance against this (Israeli) enemy." Nasrallah accused Israel of planning to assassinate Hizbullah leaders, saying this would not deter Hizbullah from continuing its battle against Israel. "I tell the Zionists: We don't fear you. Say whatever you want and do whatever you want. We know that you are planning new assassinations of resistance leaders. But this will not make us retreat," he said. "We are staying here and standing fast here." The Hizbullah leader went on to say that Israel was helpless in dealing with the Iranian Islamic Republic, and that even Israel recognizes its own inability to cope with the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Nasrallah referred to the Georgians' failure to win the war with Russia after relying on Israeli weapons and military specialists. He referred specifically to Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsh, who commanded Division 91 during the Second Lebanon War and stepped down from his post after he was blamed by an internal military probe for the abduction of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser. "Gal Hirsh went after the war in Lebanon to Georgia to train its forces at Israel's instruction," claimed Nasrallah. He said that the Georgian forces troops had now suffered a defeat to Russia "because they were trained by failed Israeli generals." He said that Georgia's defeat sent out a message of warning to all those supported by the US, that they were only being used to fulfill American purposes. In his speech, Nasrallah also praised two key agreements this week between Lebanon and Syria - the establishment of diplomatic relations and the deal to start demarcating the contested border between the two long-estranged neighbors. Nasrallah said the developments ushered in "a new phase and signals a qualitative development" in Lebanon-Syria relations.