Nasrallah: We have remains of IDF troops

Says Israel not interested in receiving soldiers' remains; does not mention Goldwasser, Regev.

Nasrallah 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Nasrallah 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 1 [file])
Hizbullah is willing to negotiate returning to Israel the remains of several soldiers killed during the Second Lebanon War, Israel Radio reported Wednesday overnight. Nasrallah made no mention of reservists Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, whose capture sparked the war. The organization's leader Hassan Nasrallah was quoted as telling a Lebanese TV station that negotiations with Israel were taking place, but progressing slowly. He said that Israel seemed less anxious to receive the remains of several fallen soldiers than would seem to follow a deal made several weeks ago, when the body of a drowned Israeli was returned for a wounded Hizbullah fighter and the remains of two others. The cleric added that within two to three weeks it could be appraised if the negotiations will bear fruit. Nasrallah added that Hizbullah was preparing for a war against Israel but said another round of fighting is not expected in coming months. Hizbullah was following the IDF's maneuvers in the North and its attempts to recuperate from the war, Nasrallah was quoted as saying. Earlier in the interview, which lasted for two hours, Nasrallah said that "[Hizbullah] influences how Iran acts in the Middle East more than Iran influences [Hizbullah]." He also accused Israel of being behind the political assassinations in Lebanon. The Hizbullah leader lashed out at the United States, saying that it was intentionally acting to sabotage the Palestinian right of return by making sure Palestinian refugees stay in Lebanon. Furthermore, he accused the US of trying to control the Lebanese government and its army in order to force the country into a peace treaty with Israel and to destroy Hizbullah. In the interview, which was also aired by Hizbullah's Al-Manar television, the Hizbullah leader went on to say that no president would be elected in Lebanon unless the Syrian-backed opposition gets a veto power in the future government. Nasrallah also accused the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority of creating the current presidential deadlock by refusing a partnership with the Hizbullah-led opposition. "A solution lies in a partnership through a constitutional guarantee (and) through a veto power for the opposition, which represents more than half of the Lebanese people," said the Hizbullah leader. Nasrallah said his party supported Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president to replace pro-Syrian former President Emile Lahoud, whose term ended on Nov. 23 without a successor. But Suleiman's election, he said, "will not solve the problem without a national unity government in which the opposition gets a veto power." A parliamentary session to elect Lebanon's president was postponed for the 11th time on Dec. 28 with feuding factions deadlocked over a constitutional amendment and the shape of a future government. A new parliament session has been set for Jan. 12. The crisis over the presidency has capped a yearlong power struggle between anti-Syrian politicians, who hold a slim majority in parliament and support the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, and the opposition, led by Hizbullah. Nasrallah blamed the deadlock on the ruling coalition, "which wants to fully control authority and rejects partnership with the other party." "Today, the real problem is the principle of partnership. A veto power means that the opposition becomes a partner (in government)," Nasrallah said. Lawmakers on both sides have agreed to back Suleiman as a compromise candidate, but parliament must first amend the constitution to allow a sitting military chief to become president. This process has been complicated by the opposition's demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions. Opposition boycotts have thwarted attempts to choose a president by preventing a two-thirds quorum. The ruling coalition accuses the opposition of obstructing the presidential vote under orders from Syria and Iran, which back Hizbullah. In turn, the opposition claims pro-government groups in the parliament majority follow US policies. Nasrallah said opposition leaders will meet in the next 10 days to decide on the next measures to dealt with by the ruling coalition.