In an exclusive interview given yesterday to the Lebanese television station New-TV, Hizballah Chairman Hassan Nasrallah spoke for the first time since the ceasefire took effect and says that had he known what the Israeli response would be, he would have not kidnapped the Israeli soldiers.
In a somewhat apologetic voice, much different from his usual bravado, Nasrallah said that the response to the kidnapping by Israel was not even one percent of what he had thought it would be. “We didn’t estimate that the kidnapping will bring on such a response, as this kind of war has never happened in the history of wars,” Nasrallah said.
On the issue of the soldiers’ release, Nasrallah said that there have been initial steps towards a negotiation, and that Italy is interested in taking part in the efforts. According to him, the UN had also expressed interest in joining the talks, which will be conducted by the Shiite Chairman of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri, who is considered close to Hizballah.
During the interview Nasrallah estimated that there is little chance of a second round of fighting with Israel, but he still holds the rights for resistance, as long as there are Israeli soldiers on Lebanese soil. Nasrallah added that if Hizballah would react to Israeli provocations, they would be seen as the ones who violated the ceasefire, and would bring on a second round of talks which this time will include the total disarming of Hizballah.
On the subject of their relationship with the Lebanese Army, Nasrallah said that the army would get all the assistance they need, and that Hizballah will avoid doing anything that will potentially embarrass the national army. “We will not have any problems with the multinational force, as long as their mission does not include disarming Hizballah,” Nasrallah added.
These words by Nasrallah and his somewhat apologetic tone are in tune with assessments in Israel that Hizballah is in a problematic political situation within Lebanon following the war. It seems that Security Council Resolution 1701, together with the damage inflicted on Lebanon during the war, has seriously de-legitimized Hizballah’s ability to act freely against Israel.