Photo: AP
Livni with Frattini in Israel
Photo: AP

Livni: We must disarm Hizbullah

Foreign minister tours north with Italian counterpart, suggests expansion of UN decision 1701 expected to be fulfilled with return of kidnapped soldiers; also stresses threat posed to Israel by arming of Hizbullah through Syrian border

"Israel is making an effort to expand decision 1701, which sealed the Second Lebanon War," a State official told Ynet, explaining that this was the reason for a visit to the north of Israel made by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and her Italian counterpart Franco Frattini on Tuesday.


The Israeli initiative is aimed at preventing any further smuggling of weapons across the Syrian-Lebanese border and the reoccurring domination of Hizbullah over southern Lebanon.


Jerusalem attempted to take advantage of Frattini's visit on two levels. First, Italy, a member of the UN Security Council, is planning to discuss UNIFIL's mandate according to the UN's decision 1701. Second, Italy commands the multi-national force in Lebanon, which is considered limited in its ability to stop Hizbullah's smuggling and empowerment.


During the northern tour, Livni displayed before Frattini the reality Israel must face when dealing with the border. Brig.-Gen. Amir Eshel, who heads the IDF's Planning Branch, explained to the Italian foreign minister about the military ramifications of Hizbullah's armament.


Eshel and Livni stressed that the expansion of UNIFIL's mandate, its personnel, and its weapons may put an end to the disconcerting phenomenon.


"Unfortunately decision 1701 was not completed by the Lebanese side and I hope that during the next few days it will be implemented with the return of the kidnapped soldiers," Livni said. "We need to stop the arming of Hizbullah by way of the Syrian border and disarm it. There is currently an opportunity to do so and we mustn't lose it." She refused to answer questions about the progress of the prisoner swap deal.  

Livni and Frattini in Jerusalem. (Photo: AFP)


"The villages in southern Lebanon suffered from Israeli strikes during the war as a result of Hizbullah's decision to attack Israel, which did not provoke Lebanon. That same Hizbullah is a member of the coalition and the government that was legitimately elected, despite which it does not represent the citizens of Lebanon. They won't soon forgive or forget the damage caused by Hizbullah during the last war," Livni said.


Frattini remarked that he was well acquainted with activities at the border, and the significance of the Italian forces stationed there. He promised that his government would continue to assist in maintaining peace at the northern border, and would act towards the fulfillment of the UN's decisions.


He expressed hope that following the election of the new government in Lebanon, negotiations would be made possible, and also claimed that the implementation of decision 1701 constitutes the best and only option for pacifying the region.


Israel plans to continue its efforts towards the fulfillment of decision 1701 through other Security Council channels in order to expand UNIFIL's mandate. It also plans to hold talks with countries that have stationed forces in southern Lebanon. Security officials claim this is the only way to halt the armament of Hizbullah, which continues to threaten the northern border.


Roni Sofer contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.08.08, 20:29
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