British minister attacks Israeli policy

Jul. 22, 2006 at 10:22PM

British Foreign Minister Kim Howells, during a stopover Saturday in Beirut, criticized both the Israeli attack on Lebanon and the U.S. position on the crisis.

"The destruction of the infrastructure, the death of so many children and so many people -- these have not been surgical strikes," Howells told a BBC reporter. "If they are chasing Hezbollah, then go for Hezbollah. You don't go for the entire Lebanese nation."

Howells also said he hopes U.S. President George W. Bush, and members of his administration, understand what is happening. The minister was scheduled to go on to Israel for a meeting with Israel's foreign secretary.

Howells' comments were yet another sign that the crisis has driven a wedge between Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The Observer reported that Blair, in a telephone conversation, tried to convince Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to use restraint. The newspaper, citing sources, said Olmert replied that Israel would do everything necessary to defeat Hezbollah.

Blair, usually Bush's firmest ally on foreign policy, is scheduled to visit Washington in a few days.