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Israeli Minister: With Lebanon No Longer Hiding Hezbollah’s Role, Next War Must Hit Civilians Where It Hurts

Fuel tanks burn at the Beirut international airport after it was attacked by Israeli aircraft July 13, 2006. PHOTO: Reuters

Naftali Bennett and Lebanese president agree: There’s no line between Hezbollah and Lebanese state. Lebanese must realize another war with Israel means Lebanon will be sent back to Middle Ages, Bennett tells Haaretz.

By Amos Harel | 7 May 2017

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HAARETZ — Lebanese President Michel Aoun paid an official visit to Cairo a month ago, ahead of which he gave a number of interviews to the Egyptian media. Aoun was only elected president after a long power struggle in which Iran and Hezbollah finally held sway, and he spoke about the fact that the Shi’ite organization continues to be the only Lebanese militia that refuses outright to disarm.

Hezbollah is a significant part of the Lebanese people, Aoun explained. “As long as Israel occupies land and covets the natural resources of Lebanon, and as long as the Lebanese military lacks the power to stand up to Israel, [Hezbollah’s] arms are essential, in that they complement the actions of the army and do not contradict them,” he said, adding, “They are a major part of Lebanon’s defense.”

Brig. Gen. Assaf Orion from the Institute for National Security Studies wrote recently that Aoun’s comments were a “lifting of the official veil and tearing off of the mask of the well-known Lebanese reality – which widely accepted Western diplomacy tends to blur. The Lebanese president abolishes the forced distinction between the ostensibly sovereign state and Hezbollah. Thus, the Lebanese president takes official responsibility for any actions by Hezbollah, including against Israel.”

Aoun’s declaration also tallies with the facts on the ground. At a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this past week, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that the Lebanese army is now “a subsidiary unit of Hezbollah.” […]

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