BEIRUT, Lebanon – Hezbollah’s leader praised an Israeli government report that said Israel’s summer war against the guerrillas was a failure. But the Lebanese government criticized the findings, saying the report did not address the massive destruction wrought on this country.

The conflicting comments Wednesday from Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and Prime Minister Fuad Saniora underlined Lebanon’s own internal political struggle between the militant group and the government. Nasrallah, who also criticized his own government’s handling of the war, said the Israeli commission reviewing the Lebanon war vindicated his claim that Israel had been defeated.

"The first important outcome of this commission is that it has finally and officially decided the issue of victory and defeat," Nasrallah said.But he also gave his enemy unprecedented praise.

"It is worthy of respect that an investigative commission appointed by (Israeli Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert condemns him," Nasrallah told a crowd at the opening of a book fair in a south Beirut neighborhood complex that was rebuilt after being leveled by Israeli warplanes during the summer fighting.

"Even though they’re our enemies, it is worthy of respect that the political forces and the Israeli public act quickly to save their state, entity, army and their existence from the crisis," the Shiite Muslim cleric added.

The 34-day war against Hezbollah guerrillas, during which more than 1,000 Lebanese and nearly 160 Israelis died, has been widely perceived in Israel as a failure. The report said Olmert bore ultimate responsibility, accusing him of poor judgment, hasty decision-making and lack of vision, fueling reports that he may be forced to step down.

In a tough blow to Olmert, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called on him to resign. Livni, who enjoys wide public support, also said she would challenge Olmert for leadership of the governing Kadima Party.

Olmert said he intended to stay on to remedy the severe flaws in decision-making and crisis management that a government war probe identified the report.

Nasrallah’s remarks may have been attempt to steer attention away from the dramatic political events unfolding in Israel. Any inflammatory remarks by the Hezbollah leader could buoy Olmert, who faces calls to step down from within his own coalition and has been working feverishly to retain his hold on power since the report’s release earlier this week.

Saniora, meanwhile, did not offer any praise for Israel and instead called on the deeply divided Lebanon to unite. He warned that Israel could be planning future attacks to restore its credibility.

"I call on my Lebanese brothers to unite in the face of what Israel might be seeking to launch against Lebanon," Saniora said.

Saniora’s government has been facing a campaign by the Hezbollah-led opposition to force it to resign. Hezbollah officials accused the majority of conniving with the Israelis to destroy the pro-Syrian and pro-Iranian guerrillas.

The U.S.-backed Saniora has refused to step down and has demanded that the state should have the sole monopoly on weapons — a tacit allusion to the ultimate need for Hezbollah to disarm.

Saniora criticized the Israeli report for failing to address the destruction, estimated at more than $5 billion, inflicted on Lebanon by the Israeli air and naval bombardment as well as the ground incursion during the war.

The report on the "unjust war … did not make a single mention of the massive material, human losses and destruction Israel inflicted on Lebanon," Saniora said.

Nasrallah also took issue with the Lebanese government, which he claims has not taken the steps to investigate its side of conflict.

"When the enemy entity acts honestly and sincerely even if its cause is unjust we cannot but respect it, especially when we look at the other (Lebanese) side which does not investigate, does not study and does not hold (anyone) accountable and does not form investigative commissions as if nothing has happened," he said.

The militant Hezbollah leader, whose group came under criticism by some Arab governments early on in the fight for triggering the war when it kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, also lamented the divisions within his country and the region.

"It is regretful that we the Arab world and Lebanon are waiting for an Israeli commission to settle for us this dispute and to tell us ‘seriously you have won and we (Israelis) were defeated,’" Nasrallah said.