Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has said that Israel would move ahead with plans to extract gas from the Karish field even if no deal is reached Lebanon, warning Hezbollah that any attack would meet a “resolute” response, the Times of Israel has reported.
“If Hezbollah makes that mistake and attacks Israel in any way, by air, sea or land, Israel will defend itself resolutely, it will attack resolutely, and if things develop into a broader conflict, we will take Lebanon apart, and that would be a great pity,” he told Channel 12, according to the Israeli newspaper.
“We’ve said so and it’s in Lebanon’s hands now,” Gantz stated.
In a separate interview with Kan TV, Gantz said: “If we reach a deal with the Lebanese government it will be good for both sides. It will be good for stability and serve all players.”
He said Israel was “not anxious” over Hezbollah’s threats. “We keep making clear that Israel is prepared for a deal, (but) Israel is determined to maintain its economic and security interests,” he added.
Gantz also rejected opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the proposed accord. The former prime minister has accused the Israeli government of bargaining away Israel’s “sovereign territory” and has said he will not be bound by it if he returns to power.
Gantz brushed away the comments, saying Netanyahu “would have rushed to sign” such a deal. He added that the former premier is “engaged solely in political manipulation.”
Gantz’s office on Saturday invited Netanyahu to a security briefing to provide him with details on the proposed deal.
On Friday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides also shot down right-wing claims the accord was a surrender to Hezbollah.
“That is ridiculous,” Nides told JTA. He also said Netanyahu “supported a very similar deal a few years ago.”