Defense Minister Amir Peretz said yesterday that before the deployment of a multinational force, Israel is preparing the conditions where the Hizballah will cease to exist.
In a meeting with commanders and soldiers in the north, Peretz said that the expansion of the ground offensive in Lebanon, which was approved by the cabinet, was designed to prepare the region for a multinational force.
“We are preparing the conditions for the multinational force, so whenever it is deployed, it would be able to enforce the new situation.”
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, however, that the complete eradication of Hizballah from the area is not a necessary condition for the deployment of a multinational force.
In her address to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Livni added that the Kana incident was a diplomatic turning point because it shifted the direction which the international community was going and narrowed Israel’s ability to maneuver in the international arena. The incident also changed the Lebanese government’s position which up until now supported a proposed settlement.
As for the timing of the IDF’s withdrawal from Lebanon, Livni said that it would be a mistake to constrain ourselves with statements about when the forces will be out. According to Livni, it will probably depend on the situation on the ground and the effectiveness of the military operation in Lebanon.