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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jumblatt scolds Israel for not crushing Hezbollah

Mohamad Shmaysani Readers Number : 687


News reports on several news sites focused on meetings between Lebanese MP and key February 14 figure Walid Jumblatt with a number of Israeli officials. According to the Nablus internet site, Jumblatt had held a meeting with former Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Kaplinski. The site quoted a senior official in the Washington Institute for Near Eastern Affairs as saying that the Jumblatt – Kaplinski meeting was held under the sponsorship of the institute management. The Washington Institute had also organized lectures for Jumblatt and Kaplinski last Friday during the annual conference for the founders of the institute.

According to the internet site, Jumblatt told Kaplinski: "You have fought and won six wars against the Arabs, although they were wars fought against nations and regular armies. The Arabs had expected your defeat in these wars, however you were defeated by a sectarian militia in the war which we and a large section of the Arab public were hoping you'd triumph in." Jumblatt was referring to Hezbollah's defeat of Israel in its 34-day aggression against Lebanon in the summer of 2006. "You ultimately left the weapons arsenal of this militia untouched so as to fight us with, because you did not enter south Lebanon and crush its dens and warehouses; this is your fatal mistake," Jumblatt told Kaplinski according to the internet site.
He added: "In all you previous wars against Lebanon, you used to enter and stay for months and years, even though this was not necessary. When this became necessary, you refrained from doing it. Frankly, I don't understand how your leaders think. Are you acting in collusion with Hezbollah to kill us?"
It seems that Kaplinski sought to reassure Jumblatt when he said in his lecture that Israel had drawn lessons from last year's war and that "in the next round we will involve larger ground forces into Lebanon to destroy Hezbollah's arsenal and training centers, and perhaps stay in Lebanon for weeks or months if necessary."

Moreover, the Watan internet site quoted an Arab diplomat as saying that Walid Fares, a Lebanese American, had finalized necessary arrangements for the secret meeting between Jumblatt and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak in Washington. The Arab diplomat told the site that Walid Fares, who has strong ties with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), had booked a special suite at a luxurious hotel in Washington for the Jumblatt – Barak meeting.

The Israeli Omedia internet site quoted this time sources close to Jumblatt as saying that the latter had met with a representative of Israeli PM Ehud Olmert. The site added the meeting was attended by US vice president Dick Cheney or his representative and that the meeting was positively concluded. The Israeli site also said that Jumblatt had met on several occasion with Israeli officials and groups.

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