CAIRO: Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora said Thursday that no contact was possible between Lebanon and Israel, which have had no relations since the creation of the Jewish state in 1948. There is no contact and no possibility at all for contact with Israel, he said after meeting with President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, a month after the end of Israel s 34-day devastating offensive against Lebanon. The last war proved that Israel cannot be trusted, Seniora said. It does not take a real step towards a full and just peace and the application of United Nations and Security Council resolutions and the application of the Arab initiative, Seniora said, referring to a plan proposed by Arab countries in 2002 to normalize ties with Israel in exchange for a return to 1967 pre-war borders. Lebanon works for peace and Lebanon wants peace but because of its nature, its structure and its circumstances, it can only be the last Arab country to enter the peace process after the Arab countries enter, he added. Seniora, who was on his first trip to Egypt after the lifting of the crippling Israeli blockade on Lebanon, made similar comments on Aug. 30 when he said Lebanon would be the last Arab country that could sign a peace agreement with Israel. Seniora also said Thursday that his government planned to stay in power as long as it had the approval of parliament, following criticism by the Shiite group Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has accused Seniora s government of being an American tool and of failing to protect the country. A Hezbollah MP has also called on Seniora to resign. The current government will remain as long as it receives the trust of parliament, Seniora said. Criticisms are normal. Our country is a democratic country. Israel s month-long offensive on Lebanon was unleashed after the capture of two of its servicemen by Hezbollah on July 12. The war killed more than 1,200 people and displaced almost a quarter of Lebanon s population.
I intend for the Lebanese army to prove its presence in the area south of Litani River, Seniora told reporters. We want this area to be under the army s and the Lebanese state control. The army has all the authority to ban any armed appearances and confiscate those weapons. The UN resolution which put a stop to the war in Lebanon calls for disarming Hezbollah and the deployment of Lebanese and international troops in south Lebanon to monitor the border with the Jewish state. South of the Litani (river), we are keen for the Lebanese army to cement its presence, Seniora said. All those Lebanese who fought Israel are Lebanese and they have all the respect, he said, referring to Hezbollah fighters. But at the same time we want that area to be under the authority of the Lebanese army and Lebanese authority, he said. When the Lebanese army sees weapons it … confiscates them, Seniora said despite Hezbollah claims that its fighters still maintain a presence in south Lebanon, the hardest hit part of the country. In an interview aired on Al-Jazeera television Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah s presence in the south had not been shaken. The resistance is present south of the Litani River and in the whole south of Lebanon, he said. We are present at the border… nobody can prevent us from being present on our territory or from defending our territory, our honor and our homeland, he said. Following the August 14 UN-brokered cease-fire, the Lebanese army began deploying soldiers in the south of the country to retake control of a region in which it had no presence for many years. A total of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers will be deployed in south Lebanon under UN Security Council Resolution 1701, supported by up to 15,000 UN peacekeepers of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), expanded from its 2,000-strong pre-war complement. After his talks in Egypt, Seniora landed in Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II to bolster support for his country after the Israeli offensive. Agencies