Photo: AFP
'No deal without Samir.' Nasrallah
Photo: AFP

Nasrallah: IDF troops only for Samir Qantar

Hizbullah leader tells Al-Jazeera no prisoner swap possible without release of longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israel; adds that UN mediator to visit country next week in bid to secure deal

Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said on Tuesday that he expects a United Nations “Mediator” to visit Lebanon next week to try to secure a deal for the release of two Israeli soldiers it captured in July.


"He was supposed to come late last week and he is expected to come next week, but negotiations have not yet started," Nasrallah told Al Jazeera television.


He said the envoy was European but gave no further details.


Hizbullah’s capture of the two soldiers in a cross-border raid triggered the 34-day war between Israel and the Shiite Muslim group. Hizbullah wants to swap the Israeli captives for Lebanese held in Israeli jails.


Nasrallah told Jazeera no deal would be possible without the release of Samir Qantar, the longest held Lebanese prisoner in Israel. “You ask me will there be a deal without Samir, I say no,” he said. “Absolutely not."


Qantar was captured during an attack in 1979 on northern Israel by a Palestinian terror group in which an Israeli policeman, another man and his four-year-old daughter were killed.


The preamble of Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the war calls for the unconditional release of the two Israelis captured by Hizbullah on July 12. It “Encourages” settling the Lebanese prisoner issue.


The resolution also calls for the deployment of the Lebanese army in the south, which the guerrillas had controlled since Israeli forces withdrew in 2000, and the expansion of a UN Peacekeeping force.


'UNIFIL will reach 5,000 soldiers very soon'

Around 380 more French troops and 13 battle tanks arrived in Beirut on Tuesday to reinforce the UNIFIL force, which has been building up ahead of a planned Israeli troop withdrawal.


Israel has been gradually pulling forces out of Lebanon since the UN Resolution in August halted fighting which caused widespread destruction in Lebanon and cost the lives of nearly 1,200 people there, mostly civilians, as well as 157 Israelis.


UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has said Israel should complete its pullout once 5,000 peacekeepers are deployed, a target which could be reached this week with the planned arrival of more European troops.


Major-General Alain Pellegrini, head of the UNIFIL peacekeepers, said he had briefed the Lebanese government “On the expected arrivals of the French and Spanish contingents in the next few days, thus ensuring that UNIFIL will reach 5,000 soldiers very soon."


Germany’s government will make a decision on sending a naval force to help patrol the Lebanese coast at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, a government spokesman said.


British Prime Minister Tony Blair, visiting Beirut this week, pledged to help Lebanon build up its army so it could assume control across the whole of the country.


But Nasrallah condemned Blair, saying he shared blame for the deaths of Lebanese civilians by not doing enough to stop the war. “This Tony Blair is an associate in the murder,” he said.


פרסום ראשון: 09.12.06, 23:08
 new comment
This will delete your current comment