Israel is not interested in war with Lebanon, with which all conflicts can be resolved through dialogue, President Shimon Peres told Kuwaiti daily al-Rai.
In an interview set to be published Sunday, Peres said that Shiite group Hezbollah serves nothing but its own narrow interests, and that he believes it will continue to fight Israel even if the latter withdraws from the disputed Shebaa Farms and the border village of Ghajar.
According to the president, Israel is aware of the fact the organization has some 80,000 rockets, "Which could lead to a catastrophe for the Lebanese people." He stressed that the weapons used by Hezbollah had been bought with Iranian money and brought to Lebanon through Syria.
Asked what he thought was Hezbollah's raison-d'être, Peres replied that the Iran-sponsored group has set up a military force parallel to the Lebanese army and has founded a state within a state.
Referring to Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah's frequent speeches, the Israeli president claimed they have become nothing more than a "source of amusement."
The Kuwaiti newspaper inquired whether Israel would respond by attacking targets in Lebanon should Hezbollah avenge the assassination of its chief of operations Imad Mugniyah. "I don't know what revenge means. Mugniyah himself had killed many, and those who kill become a target for killing.
"If Israel is attacked, it will defend itself."
The president further stated that despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent statement that Lebanon will be held responsible for any attack against Israel should Hezbollah become part of the Lebanese government, he believes Israel will only strike if it faces an offensive.