Wikileaks: Lebanese Christians Sought '06 Israeli Victory

Report also says Lebanese confiscated Hezbollah arms truck

Newly released WikiLeaks cables reveal Lebanese Christian leaders supported Israel's strikes against Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, Al-Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper linked to Hezbollah, reported yesterday.

The paper added that the Lebanese army confiscated a Hezbollah arms truck during the 2006 war.

An August 2006 cable describing a meeting between anti-Syria Christian leaders and U.S. officials quoted the Lebanese leaders as claiming that, while they supported the official call for a cease-fire, they were also in favor of weakening Hezbollah, the paper said.

The cable reportedly said the Christian leaders told Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. envoy to Lebanon at the time, and David Welch, then U.S. assistant secretary of state, that they would approve of another week or two of Israeli attacks against Hezbollah if it meant those actions would weaken the militant group.

The Christian leaders - including former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel and his son, slain Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel - also told the U.S. officials to convince Israel to withdraw from the disputed Shaba Farms area, so as to strengthen the Lebanese government and undermine one of the reasons Hezbollah gave for fighting Israel, the cable reportedly said.

A separate cable, about a meeting between Feltman and Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr that took place August 8, 2006, quoted Murr as saying Lebanese military forces had seized a truck carrying Hezbollah missiles three days earlier, the paper said.

Murr was also quoted as saying the army would be able to reign in Hezbollah's assault on Israel. He reportedly said he could deploy 15,000 troops along the Israeli border in as little as 12 hours, and estimated that Syria had equipped Hezbollah with 2,500 rockets in addition to the 3,000 it had already fired on Israel.

The release of the WikiLeaks cables came after a similar leak revealed several months ago that Murr had told the American Embassy in Beirut how Israel could defeat Hezbollah if a new war erupted on Israel's northern border.

In that case, he said, Israel should take care not to antagonize local Christian communities, according to the U.S. cable.

"The Christians were supporting Israel in 2006 until they started bombing their bridges," he was quoted as saying in that cable.