Bishara: Hezbollah Did Not Declare War on Israel Last Summer

Former MK, accused of acting against Israel's security in war, says abduction of troops 'common operation.'

Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara said Monday that Hezbollah did not declare war on Israel last summer, nor did it determine the timing of the war.

The former MK made the comments at a conference in Lebanon marking the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the war, which erupted July 12, 2006 after Hezbollah killed three Israel Defense Forces soldiers and abducted two others in a cross-border raid. Five other soldiers were killed in the ensuing rescue attempt.

"Israel is known for planning and deciding in advance on the reason for war," said Bishara, adding that he believed the abduction of IDF troops is a "common type of operation."

Bishara resigned from the Knesset and left Israel several months ago in the wake of a criminal investigation into allegations he acted against the security of the State of Israel during the Second Lebanon War.

Hezbollah parliamentary faction whip Mohammed Ra'ad also participated in the conference, along with officials various Arab states who represent pan-Arab movements.

Bishara's comments received significant attention from Lebanon's official news agency.

He added that there is no need to continue the debate as to whether Lebanon was victorious in the war, given that it has become a political argument. He slammed Hezbollah's political rivals, saying they have spent 17 years debating or not they had emerged victorious.

Bishara said that last summer?s war brought "liberation, victory, and the endowment of defeat in 33 days."