Top officials reiterate demand that Lebanon implement 1701

Resolution calling for disarmament of Hizbullah was "the basis for the cease-fire," Israeli official notes; Nasrallah celebrates 2006 "victory."

hizbullah rally 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP)
hizbullah rally 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Senior Israeli officials said on Saturday that Jerusalem expects Lebanon and the international community to fully implement Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended the fighting between Israel and Hizbullah in August 2006, including the disarming of Hizbullah. "1701 is the path the international community chose for moving forward. That, of course, includes the total disarmament of Hizbullah as a military force," a senior government official emphasized. The comments came in response to a call by UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams on Thursday for the full implementation of 1701 by the new Lebanese government to be formed following coalition negotiations. "Today, I also expressed hope for the next government, once formed, to work effectively to renew its commitment to the resolution and to work on its full implementation," Williams said following a meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Sa'ad Hariri. In an article in Lebanon's A-Nahar newspaper on Friday, Williams also said that while the UN resolution had not brought a complete end to violence, it had contributed to an extended period of stability the likes of which had not been seen in the region for a quarter of a century. His comments came in contrast, however, with a speech by Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday evening. Nasrallah said his organization's rockets were capable of reaching Tel Aviv in the event of renewed fighting with Israel. In a rally in Nabatiya to commemorate Hizbullah's "victory" over Israel in 2006, Nasrallah said Israel was trying to influence Lebanese coalition talks. "The enemy cannot manage a war which would uproot Hizbullah," he told tens of thousands of supporters. "The Israelis want to reopen the issue of Hizbullah's armament, they are trying to turn the international community against Lebanon, Syria and Iran in order to prevent the armament of the resistance," Nasrallah said. "When the Israelis speak a lot, we have nothing to fear. When they are quiet as snakes, we should be careful," he added. Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated that if Hizbullah become an official member of Lebanon's government, "we will hold the government accountable for any aggression against Israel coming out of its territory." Similarly, Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that Israel would consider military action if Hizbullah altered the balance on the border, and said that in any future war on the northern border, the IDF would have more freedom to target Lebanese infrastructure than it had three years ago. The senior Israeli official who spoke to The Jerusalem Post on Saturday refused to issue a direct threat if Hizbullah was not disarmed, but noted that the Security Council resolution was "the basis for the cease-fire" in 2006. Andy David, deputy spokesman at the Foreign Ministry, noted that "the international community was the guarantor of 1701, and we expect everyone, particularly the United Nations, to work to fulfill its stipulations." These included the disarmament of Hizbullah, full military control over the entirety of Lebanon by the Lebanese army, and the barring of paramilitary forces from operating south of the Litani River. "The fulfillment of 1701 is not just an Israeli issue, but an internal Lebanese issue. Lebanon needs to have a monopoly on the use of force within its territory," David said. "Some components of 1701 are being implemented," he noted, "while others have yet to be implemented. We have to act to fulfill all [the resolution's stipulations]." Meanwhile Friday, a Lebanese news agency reported that local security forces had uncovered another network spying for Israel. According to the report, several of the cell's members had been arrested and a manhunt was underway for six others. The agency, A-Sharq Al-Jadid, said the suspects belonged to a Lebanese political party. In other news, Arab sources reported that Syrian President Bashar Assad will visit Hizbullah-backer Iran next week to congratulate Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on his recent election victory. Assad was the first foreign leader to congratulate the Iranian president with a telegram after the disputed election results giving him a second term were published. Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.