Hezbollah: War With Israel Unlikely in Near Future

Group's deputy leader says Netanyahu won't bring peace; Israelis warned over Hezbollah terror threat abroad.

Hezbollah Deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem said on Monday that there was little prospect of another conflict with Israel in the near term.

But he warned that, "In the distant future all things are possible." Israel fought a 34-day war with Hezbollah in 2006, which it launched after the Lebanese militant organization abducted two Israeli soldiers.

The Hezbollah official also welcomed a review of policy towards Hezbollah by Britain, which says it is willing to talk to the political wing of a movement listed as a terrorist group by Washington.

"We welcome this British revision and perhaps there will be meetings in the coming days," Kassem told Reuters in an interview.

"There is no request for a meeting but we expect this to happen soon," he said, adding that Hezbollah already had "wide contacts" with other European governments.

The group's military arm is on Britain's list of banned organizations, but Hezbollah itself makes no distinction between its political and military functions.

With Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu set to lead a new government, Kassem also said he saw no chance of progress in any peace talks between Israel and Syria and the Palestinians.

Hezbollah 'still wants to attack Israelis abroad'

The government's counterterrorism unit on Monday warned Israelis that Hezbollah still seeks to perpetrate terror attacks against them abroad, urging that they take extra precautions ahead of the Jewish holiday of Pesach.

"Hezbollah has repeatedly blamed Israel for the death of Imad Mughniyeh, something that increases the threat of terror against Israeli targets abroad," the Counter Terrorism Bureau said in a communique.

The bureau, which is part of the Prime Minister's Office, was referring to Hezbollah's slain terror operations head, who was assassinated in a February 2008 car bombing in Damascus. Israel has denied involvement in the killing.

"As such," the communique continued, "the Counter Terrorism Bureau stresses its existing travel warning on the matter of the abduction of Israelis, or harm to them, abroad."

The bureau reiterated its guidelines for Israeli nationals abroad, stating that they should be even more stringent in light of the current threat.

It called on them to pay attention to unusual phenomena, refrain from visiting Arab and Muslim countries, reject tempting proposals from suspicious or unknown individuals and meet in crowded places with trustworthy companions.

Israelis abroad should make an effort to change their routines, especially in reference to hotels and restaurants, and also refrain from bringing suspicious guests into their hotel rooms, the bureau said.

Last month, bureau issued a severe travel warning for Israelis abroad, two weeks ahead of the one-year year anniversary of Mughniyeh's assassination.

"Hezbollah appears to be prepared to carry out a serious attack in the form of an assassination or a kidnapping of an Israeli target, including abroad," the bureau said. "This threatens every Israeli, especially senior figures."

The government agency described the threat as "concrete and at the highest level."