Obama Wages War of Words

While Lebanon formally lets Hizbullah remain armed, Obama wants Beirut to stop arms smuggling and Israel to honor UN ceasefire resolution.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 09:40

A Hizbullah rocket and launcher
A Hizbullah rocket and launcher
Israel news photo: Flash 90

As Hizbullah tightens its hold on the Lebanese government, which formally has allowed it to remain armed in violation of United Nations resolutions, U.S. President Barack Obama calls on Beirut and Israel to honor U.N. declarations.

President Obama told visiting Lebanese President Michel Sleiman that arms smuggling threatens Israel’s security but agreed that Israel must honor the resolution that ended the Second Lebanon War three years ago.

"We also discussed the Israeli threats against Lebanon which are taking place and place obstacles to the economic growth of the country," Sleiman said. President Obama agreed with his request to put "pressure on Israel to implement Resolution 1701."

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has denounced the resolution, which calls on disarming Hizbullah in southern Lebanon but which commanders of the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) said at the outset they could not enforce. Prime Minister Netanyahu last month asserted that Hizbullah is "the real Lebanese army, not a sideline militia as in the past."  

Pro-Syrian Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri declared on Monday, “We bet on forcing Israel to implement U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1701 and 425. We say with all pride that we are not incapable of forcing the implementation of 425 through resistance.” The 1978 resolution calls on Israel to withdraw forces from all Lebanese territory. Beirut is trying to pressure Israel to surrender the Ghajar village, which straddles the northern border.

Various intelligence report from Israel and elsewhere have estimated that Hizbullah has stockpiled between 60,000 and 80,000 rockets that can strike Israel, nearly three times the number it possessed at the beginning of the 34-day-old war.

 

"I want to be clear, I emphasized to him our concerns about the extensive arms that are smuggled into Lebanon that potentially serve as a threat to Israel,” President Obama said.

 

Last month, Israel intercepted as ship carrying hundreds of tons of weapons from Iran and destined for Hizbullah terrorists.




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