'Moderate' new Lebanese gov't won't make peace with Israel

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

Saad Hariri, leader of the parliamentary bloc that won Lebanon’s legislative election on Sunday and favorite to become his nation’s next prime minister, told CNN on Tuesday that despite his “moderate” label, he has no intention of opening peace talks with Israel.

Hariri said that the next Lebanese government may not even support the pan-Arab peace proposal to Israel that US President Barack Obama is currently pushing.

He went on to caution against references to his party and its allies as “pro-Western,” insisting that they are instead “pro-Lebanon” and that their electoral victory had nothing to do with possible relations to the West.

Hariri’s remarks were seen as a gesture to Hizballah and the other pro-Syria parties that found themselves still in the opposition following the election.

In an interview with the Financial Times on Wednesday, Hariri burst a lot of bubbles in the West by stating he has no intention of confronting Hizballah and forcibly bringing it in line with international demands.

Speculation is rife that Hariri may actually follow the path of current “pro-Western” Prime Minister Fuad Siniora and invite Hizballah into his cabinet.

In light of the fact that Hizballah may be down, but is certainly not out, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Tuesday warned the US to not get too excited by Lebanon’s election results and increase its supply of arms to the country.

Speaking at the Council for Peace and Security, Barak said that Israel is concerned the large amount of American arms sent to Lebanon over the past few years have probably already started a slow journey into the hands of Hizballah gunmen.

When it comes to Lebanon, Barak noted that Israel has “extensive experience,” and that it would be wise for all involved to not delude themselves.

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