(Moqawama) Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the prisoner exchange between Hizbullah and the enemy entity is a partial and limited operation and that its focus was not numbers-based but rather strictly humanitarian, pending the more important operation. He pointed out that what happened gives impetus to the operation yet to come, which is more important to the resistance, the enemy and to the international mediator alike.
In his discourse this evening, through Al-Manar television channel, His Eminence affirmed that vigorous ongoing negotiations are in place, and that after days, full and vigorous negotiations will resume. His Eminence also spoke of positive progress in this subject, and that work is continuing with clear and serious effort currently expended, and that there is an opportunity to achieve a major breakthrough.
The following is the full text of his Eminence`s speech:
First of all, best wishes to you on this happy and blessed Eid al-Fitr.
To begin with our congratulations and condolences go to the family of martyr Mohammed Yusuf Asayli, whose body was liberated from the occupation`s grip last night. In the meantime, our brothers are still working on establishing the identification of one of the received bodies and to whom of the resistance martyrs it belongs.
Congratulations to the liberated prisoner Hassan Aqeel and his family. God willing, God grants him good health, well-being and longevity.
The occasion for this talk is the developments in the negotiation and exchange that occurred, and the horizon towards which we are moving during the next phase.
Of course, I want to speak within the available scope, which does not harm our negotiation process, because in all that is happening, ours remains a humanitarian objective and not a media or political goal.
In the end, there are political and media results which will inevitably occur along the way, but the real goal is the release of the prisoners, all prisoners and the return of the bodies of all the martyrs. Supporting this objective is what governs our behavior, performance and conduct in this regard.
Several months ago, negotiations began between Hizbullah and the “Israeli” enemy through an international mediator assigned by the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr. Kofi Annan, and this assignment was resumed by the new Secretary-General.
In their beginnings negotiations are difficult in nature; because each party wants to present all the files they are interested in, either directly or indirectly. During negotiations the “Israelis” presented everything, what we have a connection with and what not, for example, they talk about the “Israeli” soldiers captured in July of last year.
They (“Israelis”) also talk about the bodies of soldiers missing in Sultan Yacoub confrontation in 1982. Then again, they revert back to talking about the “Israeli” co-pilot Ron Arad (went missing when his fighter jet was downed in Lebanon during a bombing raid).
On the other hand, we naturally talk about the Lebanese prisoners and non-Lebanese, that is to say all the prisoners.
We also talk about the four Iranian diplomats whom we believe were handed over to “Israel” after being kidnapped at a Lebanese Forces checkpoint in 1982.
Hence, each party arrives with their files, and concern themselves with following up there cases.
Naturally, the negotiations move with difficulty, initially arduous and tough, but with time, things unravel.
I like to mention that all negotiation processes on such files always took time and this is normal.
Some time ago, we told the international mediator that we had the body of an “Israeli” settler of Ethiopian origin. We presented a card as proof, and that the body existed in our possession. We said that we have no problem discussing the subject or negotiating over it if you (the mediator) liked, because in the end we do not want to hold this body and we are ready for it to return to its family.
On the other hand, there are prisoners and bodies of martyrs held by the “Israeli” enemy. So, we must deal with this issue in a purely humanitarian way.
Of course, at that point the subject was left there for them to deal with. So, they took their time to ascertain and confirm our claim, which is their business.
What was said in the media was true, that this “Israeli” settler was washed up on Lebanese beaches, landing into the hands of some honest and honorable citizens, who found cards with Hebrew writing on the body. They contacted us and handed the body over to us.
Incidentally, I thank these righteous and honorable citizens very much for their initiative and sense of higher responsibility, and for putting their trust in us.
All these details have become part of the current debate and negotiations.
During these negotiations and alongside them, in a proposal to us the international mediator said: “Since the blessed Eid Al-Fitr was coming, how about if you took the initiative with a good-will gesture towards the “Israelis”, and ask them for the same good-will initiative towards you?”
We said we have no objection. Of course, we are here talking about good intentions limited to the humanitarian aspect of the issue. We do not talk about the restoration of trust or confidence building, because on the subject of confidence and trust none whatsoever exist between Hizbullah and “Israel”. Instead, only bitter hostility between a resistance movement defending the land, people and sovereignty of its country, and an enemy that rapes, kills and assaults.
The subject is not an issue of building trust, but the good intentions are in a specific humanitarian case, related to prisoners and bodies of martyrs.
We agreed and asked what is required. The mediator said two things; first the body of the “Israeli” settler, secondly, information, if you have any on a specific case.
Now the “Israeli” side can talk all they will about what the required information was, we will not reveal any, as we are committed to discretion over negotiation details.
There is a specific case and these are the facts. Of course, this is not a critical issue, such information does not finalize anything but helps pave the way to reach reasonable and convincing results.
Now the “Israeli” side can talk all they will about what the required information was, we will not reveal any as we are committed to remaining discreet on negotiation details.
There are specific cases and these are the facts. Of course, these are not critical issues. Such information does not finalize anything but helps pave the way to reach reasonable and convincing results.
We do not have objections; our part of the good-will initiative was to deliver the body of the settler together with a collection of information and facts in a specific case.
Conversely, we were informed that the “Israeli” initiative was the release of one of the five prisoners captured in the July 2007 war, the name was not identified in the beginning. The release of one of the five prisoners captured in the July war together with the bodies of two martyrs, of course when we talk of five, I here do not discuss names because anyone of these five prisoners is our brother.
We are firm on bringing back all prisoners as well as martyrs, even if we were not informed of the martyrs` identities, the least the “Israelis” could have done, claiming it was difficult, which is possibly true.
Hence, we accepted the “Israelis`” side of the initiative and they ours.
The international mediator stipulated extreme secrecy, which suits us fine, since our preoccupation is accomplishing the goal and not media or politics. This is why there was strong secrecy round the event exhibited by Hizbullah and its officials even to Hizbullah related media channels. It was as if there nothing was taking place, which you would have noticed yesterday. This is due to our commitment to silence.
The reason for this diligent silence is the concern to complete the exchange operation and block any outside interference or biddings on their side as I do not think there is anyone in Lebanon who wants to bid in order to disrupt an operation of this type.
On the “Israeli” side, it is possible for the subject to be entered into biddings. From our experience in the past exchange, we know that the biddings within the enemy`s government and media is disrupted certain aspects of the process, which would have been very beneficial had it been completed.
In any case, in light of the climate of secrecy, everyone may have been surprised, including the families, because news of the event was released on Monday, and because certain procedures had to be conducted on the ground.
Of course, the news was leaked and people found out. Nonetheless, we remained committed and praise be to God, the operation was accomplished with complete success and within the expected outcome, free of any problems, obstacles or complications.
Our assessment and what I like to say to people at this moment is that the exchange that took place, though it is a big achievement, it remains a limited part of an operation, even if the humanitarian value of freeing one prisoner or returning one martyr`s body is humanely extremely valuable.
The subject is not one of numbers, but a humanitarian issue which we ultimately resign to the fact that it is a partial and limited process pending the more important operation.
There is no doubt that what happened yesterday gave an important impetus to the broader and more important process taking place, whether on our side, the enemy`s or even the international mediator.
With regards to the remaining broader aspect of the process, I would like to emphasize the following:
First: I confirm that there are ongoing vigorous negotiations. By this I mean the negotiations are not seasonal or intermittent but prompt and vigorous, which will resume vigorously and well in a few days time.
Secondly: for the first time, I can speak about the existence of positive progress in the basic negotiations associated with the two “Israeli” soldiers and the prisoners.
Thirdly: the continuation of the work and it is clear there is serious and focused effort applied at this level.
These facts make us look forward with hope and optimism that may not have otherwise been available over the past months. I can disclose this aspect and for the first time I talk about hope, optimism and positive progress, and that an opportunity exists to achieve a breakthrough in a whole operation of this type.
I certainly understand the feelings of all the families of the martyrs and that the recovery of the body of the martyr is no less important psychologically, spiritually and even emotionally, than the recovery of the liberated prisoner.
Perhaps the lack of clarity around the names may have created a certain emotional air, given all the families of martyrs and prisoners who were expecting the martyrs to be theirs, the same with the liberated prisoner.
After all, we did not purposely do that. True there was no clarity in the names. Otherwise, we would have informed families of the martyrs and prisoners so that things would be clearer from the outset.
Finally, I must stress, your brothers know this, and here I am not talking about the Lebanese prisoners only, but about the Lebanese and non-Lebanese; on the occasion of this achievement and this exchange, I renew the unequivocal commitment of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon to returning the prisoners and the bodies of the martyrs. This is our main and central issue for which we strive and are every ready to make sacrifices.
I would also like to emphasize to the families that we place a great deal of hope on the crew assigned by Hizbullah for the mission, and their efforts.
This team has had a great deal of experience since the beginning of exchange operations. It has a high level of efficiency, excellent experience and a good sense of a high level of responsibility. Thus, the political decision is decisive and the follow up crew is excellent. I believe that doors previously locked in the circumstances surrounding this file have started to open up.
Now, I can not say anymore than this so as not to cause any damage or harm to the process. However, this process is ongoing, and we hope to reach results soon.
At the end, I must thank the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the delegation or assistants assigned by him, as well as those we call `the international mediator`, who have truly made great efforts during this period, often overworked, we thank them for this humanitarian effort, in the hope that, God willing, other achievements can be made at this level and we can reach a joyful end to this file with the help of God Almighty.
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