Embarrassment in Jerusalem: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan announced that following requests from Israel and the Hizballah he has agreed to become a mediator for the release of prisoners. Officials in Israel are denying they made such a request.
Annan announced today during a visit to Saudi Arabia that Israel and the UN both appointed a point man for the negotiations and that Hizballah will appoint theirs soon, but said he will not disclose their names so the talks could remain in secret.
Annan said that the intention is to create a three way mechanism to broker the deal.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s office said however that “we did not ask him to be a mediator. We don’t need mediation. We need to implement resolution 1701 talking about an unconditional release of the soldiers. That is the reason we didn’t ask for mediation. We want the soldiers to be released. In case the soldiers are transferred to the Lebanese government we would definitely request Annan’s help to bring them home.”
The officials added that it is true Israel asked Annan to help solve the issue and to bring to the release of the soldiers, but no one asked him to mediate. “There is a UN resolution and if we accept mediation now, that means we are retreating from the UN’s decision.”