Defense Minister Amir Peretz
called on the Israeli army Tuesday not to relinquish its moral values, arguing that "bombarding and obliterating the villages in Lebanon will not prevent the Katyusha fire on Israel."
said Tuesday that he wants a diplomatic solution to complement Israel's military operation in Lebanon.
Peretz was speaking during a meeting of his Labor Party faction in the Knesset.
Peretz's comments come in light of the continuation of military operations in south Lebanon and diplomatic efforts to find a solution for the crisis, mainly at the United Nations Security Council.
"A military confrontation is not sufficient," Peretz stressed. "It is a tool that creates a room for maneuver for reaching the best political deal."
Peretz said that Israel's biggest
problem is the fact that over million Israelis are in shelters and the army's duty is to allow northern communities to return to their lives as soon as possible.
"That's the main mission we face – if we achieve it through diplomatic means, than we can claim that diplomacy brought about the wanted complement for the military operation."
Despite stressing the need for diplomacy, Peretz ordered the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the possibility that diplomatic efforts to bring about a lasting ceasefire could fail.
He said he ordered the Israel Defense Forces to mull a plan to occupy launching pads used by Hizbullah to fire short-range rockets at Israel. The occupation of south Lebanon, Peretz said, has three main objectives: 'cleaning up the territory of weapons,' the disarmament of Hizbullah,
the return of the two kidnapped soldiers, and giving Israel enough territorial flexibility to defense itself against attacks.
"The IDF's job is to allow the home front to live normally. The job of the political system is to achieve diplomatic gains," Peretz said.