United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said yesterday during his visit to Jerusalem, that Israel is responsible for most of the ceasefire violations in south Lebanon and demanded that Israel lift the sea and air blockade from Lebanon. “It is important to allow Beirut to return to normal economic activity and rebuild itself,” Annan said.
Annan promised that the augmented UN force to be deployed in south Lebanon will ensure that there are no armed Hizballah terrorists south of the Litani River. “Civilians from both sides suffered, and it is a time to live in peace,” Annan said after his meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
Annan promised that the UN will do everything to bring the kidnapped soldiers back home. “As a husband and a father I feel the pain of the families. I notified Hizballah they must release the soldiers unconditionally.” He added that he is convinced the Lebanese leadership is serious in its wish to resolve the issue of the kidnapped soldiers. According to him, he had the impression the soldiers are alive.
Prime Minister Olmert said after the meeting that the international community must focus on a complete implementation of Resolution 1701, and hoped that Israel and Lebanon could soon open a direct line of talks between them.
In reaction to that call, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora rejected the offering and said that “there will be no direct negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut. We do not aspire to an agreement.” Saniora also said that Lebanon would be the last Arab state to sign a peace agreement with Israel: “There are 300,000 Arabs out there. If everyone agreed, Lebanon will sign.”