VIDEO - Israel
is responsible for most ceasefire violations in southern Lebanon,
according to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The UN chief made the scathing remarks Tuesday during his meeting with Defense Minister Amir Peretz,
which followed a meeting with families of the abducted Israel Defense Forces soldiers. He said that the aim should be to strengthen the truce in conjunction with ongoing political efforts in order to ensure the ceasefire holds.
|Annan meets with captives' families (Video: Studio Edy Boy)|
Annan also called on Israel to lift the aerial and naval blockade imposed on Lebanon since the beginning of the war. At this time, however, Israel has no intention of complying with the request.
Annan and Peretz (Photo: Haim Zach)
According to Annan, lifting the blockade would allow Lebanon to renew normal economic activity and rehabilitate its economy, hard hit by the recent war. He also called for an end to arms shipments to Hizbullah and joint action for peace in a bid to avoid another round of violence in the future.
The UN head expressed his hope that French and Italian forces arrive in the region this Friday, thus allowing the international force to double its presence from 2,500 to 5,000 troops by the weekend.
The implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 is not a minor matter, but rather, an important one, he said, and called on both sides to implement the decision.
Peretz, meanwhile, expressed his hope that the arms embargo on Lebanon will be implemented. He said that he also that in his talk with the UN head he emphasized the need to secure the release of the abducted soldiers, and added that Annan said he viewed it as an important matter.
The defense minister thanked Annan for meeting with families of the kidnapped soldiers and said this conveyed an important message to the people in Israel. The defense minister also expressed his gratitude to Annan for coordinating the activity of IDF and UN forces in southern Lebanon.
Referring to the Lebanese government, Peretz said a sovereign government should exercise responsibility over its territory. He also stressed the danger inherent in rearming Hizbullah and said the embargo should be maintained particularly in crossings between Syria and Lebanon.
Turning his attention to the multinational force, Peretz said Israel would be quick to remove its forces from Lebanon once a considerable international force arrives.
Peretz and Annan also spoke about the four UN soldiers killed during the war in Lebanon by the IDF. The defense minister said the investigation into the matter will be handed over to the UN and noted the bombing of the UN compound was apparently a mistake.
Meanwhile, officials at Peretz's office characterized the meeting as "very good."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report