Peretz: IAF to Continue Lebanon Overflights Until Troops Freed

Defense minister to Solana: IAF will continue flying in Lebanon skies until UN resolution fully implemented.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, on Thursday that IAF overflights will continue in Lebanon as long as the UN cease-fire resolution has not been fully implemented.

Peretz told the visiting Solana during their meeting in Tel Aviv that the implementation of UN Resolution 1701 must include the release of captured soldiers Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

Peretz also emphasized the importance of full international monitoring along the Syria-Lebanon border in order to prevent arms smuggling to Hezbollah, as called for in the resolution.

Solana: Israel must uproot West Bank outposts, push road mapIsrael must evacuate all illegal West Bank outposts and do its part to advance the internationally-backed road map for peace, the European Union's foreign policy chief told Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Thursday.

Javier Solana told Livni during talks in Tel Aviv that despite the prevailing chaos with the Palestinian Authority, the road map was still an existing plan in dire need of immediate implementation, Army Radio reported.

He implored Livni to remember Israel's obligations to the plan, adding he was concerned by a comment he had heard a day before by a "cabinet member" intimating that Israel has no plans to remove West Bank settlements or outposts. Solana on Wednesday held introductory talks with incoming minister on strategic threats, MK Avigdor Lieberman.

Solana said he hoped the crucial Rafah border crossing between Gaza and the outside world, which has been closed by Israel for most of the past four months, would be reopened on a regular basis soon.

European Union officials who monitor the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt have threatened to abandon their mission if Israel keeps closing the passage for what it says are security reasons.

"We hope to have in a few days or weeks - we hope days - a response on a renewal of our presence in Rafah," Solana told reporters.

Livni said in response to Solana's request, "we are going to negotiate with the Europeans on the future terms... But we are very positive about the role of Europe in monitoring the Rafah passage."

Turning to the issue of Iran's nuclear standoff, Livni called on the international community to stop Tehran from getting the technological know-how necessary to build nuclear weapons. Israeli defense officials have estimated that Iran could have the knowledge within two years.

"The world cannot afford a nuclear Iran," Livni said. "There is a need to take sanctions against Iranians in order to understand that the world cannot accept their way of promoting the nuclear system or nuclear program while trying to negotiate with the world the terms of this program." While Solana voiced agreement with the foreign minister, he said "it's not in my hands," adding that the decision was ultimately to be made by the United Nations Security Council.

The EU official was due to meet later in the day with Defense Minister Amir Peretz before traveling to the West Bank city of Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Solana also met Thursday with Vice Premier Shimon Peres, who accused the international community of responding weakly to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Iran has been steadily building long-range missiles and must be stopped in its quest to achieve nuclear arms, Peres told reporters before meeting Solana. "Iran is not strong. The reaction to Iran is weak and that is what strengthens Iran," Peres said.

Israel has repeatedly called on the international community to slap sanctions on Iran, which it says is working quickly to build nuclear arms. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful.

Israel views Iran as an existential threat, and has become even more concerned since hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power as Iran's president.

Ahmadinejad has said Israel should be wiped from the map and questioned the truth of the Holocaust.

The UN Security Council is considering limited sanctions on Iran but has so far failed to get all 15 members on board to pass the proposal.