Photo: Amir Cohen
Vice Premier Shimon Peres
Photo: Amir Cohen
Photo: Reuters
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Israeli soldier on Israel-Lebanon border
Photo: Reuters

Peres: Give diplomacy a chance

Vice premier tells Ynet '15 victims a day is proof of price we are likely to pay if we don't try to utilize diplomatic process to the fullest'

Vice Premier Shimon Peres told Ynet on Thursday that "It is always possible to run to war but it is preferable to give a chance to the diplomatic channel. Fifteen victims a day is a proof of the price we are likely to pay if we don't try to utilize the diploamtic process to the fullest."


Peres, who abstained in a government vote on the expansion of the operation in Lebanon said: "If this doesn't work and there is no choice – there will be a war. At the moment it is preferable to wait and see if it is possible to achieve demands we asked Lebanon without exerting full military power."


Peres said that during his visit to Washington last month he was pleased with US efforts to draft a UN resolution aimed at ending the crisis. He added that he asked Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and cabinet ministers to delay the military plan in light of a declaration by Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to send 15,000 soldiers to southern Lebanon.


Israeli soldiers in Lebanon (Photo: Reuters)


"It is clear to me that in war we have to act like in war and attack with full force," Peres said. "That's what I said at the beginning of the operation in Lebanon, in a war that cannot be more justified. But a window of opportunity arose then to achieve the targets set by Israel. The diplomatic window opened in the same draft by the US and France and now the offer by Siniora. It is true that we insist that Lebanese troops should be supported by an effective multinational force, but we face a political opportunity that could give Israel the fruits it wants. We shouldn't brush it aside. We need to give it a chance."


Peres as well as Ministers Ophir Pines-Paz and Eliyahu Yishai abstained in the vote.


'Don't rush to war' 


"I abstained in the vote on the expansion of the military operation presented by the army and the Ministry of Defense, because I believe we need to give a change to the political option. I believe this is right.


"We shouldn't rush to war when we see the heavy price it is costing, whether it is soldiers in the vanguard or citizens sitting in shelters for a month. If there is a diplomatic means to achieve what we want, it is good. If not, I will wholeheartedly support renewing the military operation to bring defeat to this dangerous terror group, which is an envoy of Iran in Lebanon."


Peres met a Congressional delegation from the United States on Thursday.


Peres told his hosts that Israel has no plan to occupy south Lebanon but will fight aggressively to protect its citizens from Hizbullah.


"Hizbullah men are envoys of Iran. Iran and Syria want to turn Lebanon into a Shiite country, divided and troubled. They are working incessantly to arm and train Hizbullah soldiers for this purpose and Israel will always prefer political solutions to war. When Israel is presented with a serious proposal for a truce, which includes the disarmament of Hizbullah and the return of the kidnapped soldier, Israel will treat the proposal seriously."


פרסום ראשון: 08.10.06, 12:31
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