Hassan Nasrallah
Photo: AFP
Nasrallah: Arab peace plan is lifeline for Olmert
Hizbullah leader says Saudi peace initiative rescues Israel from difficult situation after last summer 'defeat'
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah accused the Arab world of running to Israel's rescue following its "defeat" at the hands of his group in last summer's war by renewing a land-for-peace offer to the Jewish State.


"I tell the Arab world, 'Israel is spread out before you. You are welcome to learn its strengths and weaknesses.' But at a time when Israel is so weak, the Arabs are renewing the Arab Peace Initiative in order to save (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert," Nasrallah said.


The Arab League renewed a Saudi peace initiative in March offering Israel full diplomatic relations with the Arab world in return for withdrawal from lands captured in the 1967 Mideast war.


Faced by public uproar over the army's poor performance against the Shiite group last summer, the Israeli government appointed a commission headed by retired Justice Eliyahu Winograd to investigate the war's handling.


The committee faulted Olmert for taking Israel to war hastily and failing to conceive an exit strategy in a partial report published last month. Defense Minister Amir Peretz was censured for failing to seek enough advice to compensate for his lack of military experience.


Nasrallah vowed that his group would prove to be a tougher enemy if a new war broke out.


Mocks Peretz 

"If another war breaks out we will fight better than we did in July," he said, referring to the 34-day conflict that erupted on July 12 when Hizbullah gunmen abducted two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.


Nasrallah ridiculed Peretz who has said in the past that Israel would push the Shiite group north of the Litani River in southern Lebanon,
saying Hizbullah never left the area south of the river.


"I laughed when I heard Peretz saying 'We will prevent Hizbullah from returning south of the Litani River.' Did we ever leave this area? All the area's residents are our supporters," Nasrallah boasted.

Nasrallah said he would welcome the establishment of an Arab or Lebanese commission of inquiry to investigate whether his group had erred in launching the cross-border attack.


Nasrallah claimed that the Winograd Commission pointed that the Israeli government had planned a war against his group in March, four months before the war erupted.


He added that Israel erred when it believed that its mighty air force would be able to halt daily rocket attacks on northern Israel. "Israel's assumption was that the air force would be able to annihilate the resistance within 5-6 days ahead of a diplomatic initiative between the US and others in the region," he said.


"Israel's disrespect and arrogance in Lebanon lead to its defeat … by the willingness and wisdom of the resistance," he carried on.


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