Barak warns Lebanon
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Barak warns Lebanese government
Lebanon will be held accountable for Hezbollah actions, defense minister says
Israel will not accept Hezbollah's membership in the Lebanese government and will hold Lebanon responsible for any military clash in the north, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday.


"We will not accept the equation whereby a UN member state is home to a militia in possession of 40,000 rockets but also parliament members and ministers," he said while meeting municipal leaders in northern Israel. "The Lebanese government is responsible for any clash rather than the Hezbollah, and all of Lebanon's systems will be held accountable."


The defense minister noted that the government in Lebanon was sophisticatedly set up to resemble a normal state, while Hezbollah enjoys veto power and the freedom to act.


"They entered the 2006 war with 14,000 rockets and missiles…today they possess more than 40,000 missiles with larger warheads," he said.


Barak noted that Security Council Resolution 1701 has failed to curb Hezbollah's arming process, but said that "deterrence still exists."


"There's clearly coordination with Iran and there will be attempts to infringe the balance of power on Lebanese soil and in Lebanon's skies," he said. "Should we become convinced that the balance has been compromised, we will be forced to consider our moves."


Turning his attention to the prospect of renewed peace talks with Syria, Barak said: "Israel has an interest in reaching an agreement with Syria from a position of power and deterrence and bringing it out of the axis of evil."


The defense minister said he believes there is a way to work out an agreement via regional talks, adding that Assad is seeking open and indirect negotiations, while Israel prefers secret direct talks.


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