Page last updated at 01:34 GMT, Sunday, 24 January 2010

Israeli PM plays down minister's Lebanon war claim

Benjamin Netanyahu (20 January 2010)
Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel sought peace with its neighbours

Israel's prime minister has distanced himself from comments by a member of his cabinet who suggested Israel was heading for a new war with Lebanon.

Israel was "not seeking any conflict" with Lebanon, Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Earlier, Yossi Peled, minister without portfolio and a reserve army general, had said that a repeat of the 2006 war with Lebanon was only a matter of time.

More than 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and about 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers, died in the conflict.

"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu clarifies that Israel is not seeking any conflict with Lebanon," the Israeli leader said in a statement on Saturday.

"Israel seeks peace with its neighbours."

The statement came shortly after comments by Mr Peled were broadcast in which the minister said Israel was "heading towards a new confrontation".

"In my estimation, understanding and knowledge it is almost clear to me that it is a matter of time before there is a military clash in the north," he said.

In 2006 the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah launched a raid into Israel in which it captured two Israeli soldiers. Hezbollah also sent thousands of rockets into northern Israel.

Israel launched huge air and sea attacks on targets all over Lebanon, and then a land invasion.

More than 1,000 Lebanese, many civilians, died in the war as well as 116 Israeli soldiers and 43 civilians. In Lebanon, bridges, roads and thousands of homes were destroyed in the Israeli bombardment.

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