Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that "every war creates opportunities for an extensive diplomatic process," and that "we need to hold negotiations with Lebanon and lay the groundwork for negotiations with Syria."
Peretz made the statements during a Bar Mitzvah party for 65 IDF orphans that was held in Tel Aviv.
Peretz said: "I'm certain that our enemies understand they cannot defeat us. I plan to do whatever I can to restore the diplomatic support for Israel. We need to resume negotiations with the Palestinians." Peretz added that the State of Israel never intended to get dragged into the "Lebanese mud," and that it does not plan to do so now.
He stressed that IDF forces were deployed across southern Lebanon, and that they will respond to any attempt to strike them.
"We will act with all our might if there's an attempt to hurt soldiers on the ground. Up until now the ceasefire has been stable, and we insist that the UNIFIL troops will be able to enforce order in south Lebanon. In the coming days a deployment will be carried out that would allow for the return of the reserve soldiers to Israel," Peretz stated.
Israel Our Home Chairman, MK Avigdor Lieberman, slammed Peretz's call to prepare for the renewal of diplomatic contacts with Syria.
"This is precisely the attitude of not recognizing reality that brought Israel to the current conflict," Lieberman said. "After Assad's declarations that the Golan Heights will be liberated by Syrian soldiers and that Hizbullah won the war, Peretz's call to prepare conditions for negotiations with Syria will be perceived as weakness and an invitation for the next assault."
"It's preferable that the defense minister focus at this time on preparing the army for the next confrontation, which is unavoidable, and not on unrealistic wishes," the Israel Our Home chairman concluded.
'Thank you isn't enough'
Peretz expressed his appreciation for the residents of the north, but said that a "thank you" was not sufficient and that it did not constitute a substitution for the state's commitment to northerners, that should be expressed through setting up an economic-social body that would rehabilitate Israel's north and make the families of the region feel as if the entire country was hugging them.
At the conclusion of his speech, Peretz told the orphans that he knew each and every one of them was missing the father that should have been there for them on the day of their Bar Mitzvah. He said that the loss of their fathers was the common ground on which the IDF was founded and on which the State of Israel will march on.
"You don't need to tell you, the orphans, the brothers and sisters and members of the family of the bereaved, how deep the pain and sorrow is over the loss," Peretz said. "Sadly, we lost brave fighters, among the best sons of the State of Israel. The proved they can meet any mission, and thanks to them there's a diplomatic agreement and a new situation in southern Lebanon."
"Thanks to them, Hizbullah knows it will pay a very heavy price. This is what the fighters give the State of Israel," the defense minister added. "The IDF's job is to make sure Israeli citizens can continue with their routine. The use of force improved the diplomatic agreement. There's no doubt that without the military efforts we wouldn't have been able to obtain any kind of diplomatic agreement."