Israel seems to be determined to continue its psychological and media warfare against Lebanon, three years on its defeat in the Second Lebanon War. Israeli bullying also seems to be a part of turning the International concern away from building its illegal settlements in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank in a defiant move to the international community in general and the United States in particular.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an assertive message to Beirut, saying, “Let it be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack on Israel coming from its territory.”
The Israeli prime minister spoke before Gush Katif evacuees in Hevel Lachish in southern occupied territories.
Netanyahu addressed the shifting politics in Lebanon, and said, “If Hezbollah entered the government as an official body, let it be clear that the Lebanese government will be held responsible for any attack on Israel coming from its territory. The moment they are part of the government, the sovereign Lebanese government is responsible. I hope we will not need such responses.”
On Sunday, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon told Yedioth Ahronoth that should any attempt be made on an Israeli official the Lebanese government would be held accountable. “Hezbollah is not on the moon, its part of the Lebanese government…. if so much as one hair on the head of any Israeli overseas – official or tourist – is harmed, we will hold Hezbollah responsible and the response would be harsh.”
Ayalon’s statements were made in the context of a report in Egyptian media Saturday night that Egyptian security forces had uncovered a plot to murder Israeli Ambassador Shalom Cohen, although Hezbollah was not mentioned in the report.
An Egyptian judicial source meanwhile denied in statements to AFP that the suspects had mentioned any plans to murder Cohen during their interrogation.
Israeli Northern Command chief Brigadier-General Alon Friedman said in an interview to the British Times last week that the quiet on the northern border “could erupt any minute”.
He added that the stability between Lebanon and the Zionist entity was “in danger”. According to the report, Hezbollah has accumulated over 40,000 rockets and has been training its troops to launch rockets capable of reaching Tel Aviv as well as airplanes.
In 1982, Israel claimed that the Palestinian resistance tried to assassinate its Ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, and took it as a pretext to invade Lebanon and occupy its south for the next 18 years. Revelations and analyses have confirmed that Israel was behind the ‘failed’ assassination bid to justify its deadly invasion of Lebanon to eliminate the Palestinian resistance.
Netanyahu also addressed the matter of the Gaza evacuees and their location in eastern Lachish. “We are committed to completing our work, and part of it is ensuring that the territories across the border are not used as launch bases against us. Every attack will yield a response,” he said.
Last week, US Middle East envoy George Mitchell has asked Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak for a “deposit,” an advance commitment of a one-year freeze on construction in occupied West Bank settlements.
He argued that the Arab states will not make gestures toward normalization with Israel without a guarantee of an end to building in the settlements. Mitchell said an Israeli agreement to temporarily freeze construction would facilitate “concessions” from the Arab states.
An Israeli senior source noted that while Netanyahu and Barak did not reject the request, they disagree with the Americans over some of the details. Mitchell asked for a construction freeze of at least a year, but Israel has agreed to suspend building on the settlements for six months, at most.
The Americans have not yet said clearly what will happen at the end of the freeze period. Israel wants a U.S. commitment to reach new understandings with Tel Aviv over future developments that would be similar to those between former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
Israel and the U.S. also disagree over the future of 2,500 illegal housing units already under construction in the settlements. Israel wants to complete all of these units, while Mitchell seeks to reduce the number to be completed as much as possible.
Moreover, French Foreign Ministry questioned last month Israeli Ambassador Daniel Shek, and demanded immediate end to Israeli settlement building ‘including in east Jerusalem’. Shek also told that ‘Israel should open checkpoints regularly to allow reconstruction of Gaza’.