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Lebanese PM says Lebanese have the right to resist Israeli occupation

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said yesterday that Lebanese citizens have the right to “resist Israeli occupation and repel its aggression,” indicating that his new Government would allow Hezbollah to keep its significant weapons arsenal.

Lebanon has previously committed to disarming Hezbollah, an internationally-designated terrorist group backed by Iran, as required by UN Resolution 1701 which ended the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel.

The parliament also discussed the Government’s statement on economic policy, which aims to improve Lebanon’s economic conditions. The statement included a call for reforms to state finances and the crumbling electricity sector, which costs the treasury around $2bn per annum.

Elections in Lebanon took place in May 2018, but talks to form a government had been in deadlock until last month. Hezbollah performed strongly in last year’s elections, with its bloc winning 70 out of 128 seats, and the incumbent Prime Minister Hariri’s Future Movement falling to 20 seats.

The Hezbollah-allied group now holds the health ministry, under Jamil Jabak, which analysts view as evidence that Hezbollah aims to exert more direct influence over the Government. Ali Hassan Khalil, the finance minister and Gebran Bassil, the foreign minister, are also considered allies of Hezbollah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed yesterday evening that Israel attacked Hezbollah targets in Syria on Monday. He said: “Every day, including yesterday, we take action against Iran and its attempts to entrench in the region”.

Amos Yadlin, the Director of Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank, said that the attack shows Iran and Hezbollah fighters are present in border area along the Golan Heights, and that Russia is not standing by its commitment to move them away. Yadlin criticised the Government for ending its policy of ambiguity by confirming when it hits Hezbollah and Iranian targets in Syria.