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August 31, 2006

No peace with Israel – Lebanon

Filed under: Mellemøsten — limewoody @ 10:25 am

Beirut – Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora on Wednesday said he refused to have any direct contact with Israel, and that Lebanon would be the last Arab country to ever sign a peace deal with Israel.

“Let it be clear, we are not seeking any agreement until there is just and comprehensive peace based on the Arab initiative,” he said.

He was referring to a plan that came out of a 2002 Arab League summit in Beirut.

Peace plan

It calls for Israel to return all territories it conquered in the 1967 Mideast war, the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital and a solution to the Palestinian refugee problem – all in exchange for peace and full normalisation of Arab relations with Israel.

Israel has long sought a peace deal with Lebanon, but Beirut has hesitated as long as Israel’s conflicts with the Palestinians and Syria remained unresolved.

Saniora said Lebanon wants to go back to the 1949 armistice agreement that formally ended the Arab-Israeli war over Israel’s creation.

Israel hopes for peace

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier on Wednesday that the Israel-Hezbollah ceasefire could be “a cornerstone to build a new reality between Israel and Lebanon.”

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also said they hoped the ceasefire deal could evolve into a full-fledged peace agreement between Israel and Lebanon.

Implementation of the ceasefire “gives us a foundation to move forward and settle the differences between Israel and Lebanon once and for all, to establish a durable peace,” Annan said.

Compensation for destroyed homes

Also on Wednesday, Saniora said that his government would pay $33 000 per house to compensate residents whose homes were destroyed by Israeli attacks.

The government had been criticised for being slow to respond with financial support for people who lost homes in the fighting.

Saniora said 130 000 housing units had been destroyed or damaged in more than a month of Israeli air strikes and ground fighting with Hezbollah fighters, mostly in south Lebanon. He did not give a breakdown of the completely destroyed houses.

Saniora said he would ask delegates to an international donors’ conference in Sweden on Thursday to take responsibility for rebuilding specific villages hit by Israeli attacks. Organisers of the conference are aiming to raise $500m in aid for Lebanon, Sweden’s aid minister said.

http://www.news24.com/News24/World/Middle_East/0,,2-10-2075_1990800,00.html

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