[ Wednesday, February 23, 2005 ]
Hariri: Hizbullah has right to attack Israel
Jerusalem Post; 3/21/2001; ARIEH O'SULLIVAN
COULD THIS STATEMENT HARIRI SAID YEARS AGO REALLY BE WHAT GOT HIM KILLED?
Wednesday, March 21, 2001 -- Even though Israel pulled its forces out of Lebanon, its Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri said Lebanon has the right to fight for the Shaba Farms, which he claimed are part of his country.
"The Lebanese government is fully convinced that the Shaba Farms area is a Lebanese territory and must be liberated by all means available," Hariri said in an interview with the London-based Jane's Defense Weekly to be published today.
"One way to regain Shaba Farms is through diplomatic contacts, while another way is through armed resistance. Only circumstances determine which course we should follow," Hariri was quoted as saying.
Hariri's statements indicate his rejection of the United Nations acceptance of Israel's position that Shaba Farms is Syrian territory occupied in the 1967 Six Day War. Syria has remained silent on the matter, but Israeli intelligence sources have said it has given Hizbullah the nod to harass the IDF on the Mount Dov slopes adjacent to the farms.
Hariri also gave Hizbullah a free hand in striking at Israel.
"Things are not as they used to be in the 1980s. Wars in that era did not solve the problems, but made things worse," said Hariri. "Now if [the Israelis] wage a war, Hizbullah will escalate its attacks."
Still, Hariri says a political settlement is possible with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon "if the new Israeli government has the true desire to do so." But he quickly added that statements by Sharon and other Israeli officials "lead to a pessimistic conclusion about peace prospects in the region."
Hariri blamed a lack of peace with Israel on the Jewish state.
"The peace process has not reached its objective because the Israelis are not yet ready for peace... and we cannot wait," says Hariri. "When Israel is ready [for peace], we'll be ready."
As to the possibility of Israel launching air strikes against Syrian military bases in Lebanon or Lebanese infrastructure in retaliation for future attacks by Hizbullah, Hariri said: "If Israel carries out military operations against Lebanon, it will only complicate the situation because these operations will increase the scale of violence. The solution cannot be reached through violence but only by resorting to political dialogue."
However, Hariri denied reports of differences between the government and Hizbullah on the productivity of continued guerrilla operations in the south, and declined to directly address the issue of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) disarming the guerrillas and deploying to fully secure the entire border with Israel.
"There are no problems between Hizbullah and the Lebanese government. When Israeli forces withdraw from all of south Lebanon, Hizbullah guerrillas will disarm themselves and weapons will naturally go to the Lebanese authorities," Hariri said.
art [12:03 AM]