Russia-EU Disagrees With US Backed Israeli Offensive

http://www.globalneedia.com/news.php?cod=160  
Russia and the European Union condemned Israel's strikes in Lebanon on Thursday as a dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict but the United States said Israel had the right to self defense.

Russia and the European Union condemned Israel's strikes in Lebanon on Thursday as a dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict but the United States said Israel had the right to self defense.

President Bush spoke up for Israel's attack on Beirut airport, but warned the Israelis they should be careful not to weaken the fragile Lebanese government.

"Israel has the right to defend herself," Bush told a news conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

His comments were echoed by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper who endorsed Israel's incursion into Lebanon and strikes on Gaza as measured self-defense.

"I think it's tremendously disappointing that these attacks are coming from areas (Lebanon and Gaza) that Israel voluntarily evacuated, and so I think the onus to end this escalation is on the other side," Harper said.

Comments from Bush and Harper contrasted with reaction from Russia and the European Union, which said there could be no justification for Israel's air and sea blockade on Lebanon.

"Actions, which are contrary to international humanitarian law, can only aggravate the vicious circle of violence and retribution," the EU presidency said in a statement.

The comments came as a three-strong United Nations team headed to the Middle East to seek to defuse the crisis.

Bush and Merkel made clear at a joint news conference they felt Israel's actions in seeking kidnapped soldiers and responding to Hizbollah rocket attacks were justified.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced both Israel's attack on Lebanon and its operations against the Palestinian territories.

"This is a disproportionate response to what has happened and if both sides are going to drive each other into a tight corner then I think that all this will develop in a very dramatic and tragic way," he told reporters on a flight from Paris to Moscow, Interfax news agency reported.

Israel struck three airports including Beirut's on Thursday and began enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon, intensifying reprisals after Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in cross-border attacks on Wednesday.

The Israeli attacks have killed 52 Lebanese civilians.

"DISPROPORTIONATE"

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called Israel's bombardment of Beirut airport "a disproportionate act of war", saying there was a real risk of a regional war.

Douste-Blazy also condemned Hizbollah's firing of rockets into northern Israel and the seizure of the soldiers, telling Europe 1 radio these were "irresponsible acts".

"The only solution is a return to reason by both sides," he said. "We are calling for a lowering of tensions."

The violence is the worst between Israel and Lebanon since 1996 when Israeli troops still occupied part of the south.

Bush said there was concern that any activities by Israel to protect herself would weaken the Lebanese government.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair called on all sides to exercise restraint and get back to the negotiating table.

e-mail:: contact@globalneedia.com homepage:: http://www.globalneedia.com

add a comment on this article