Speaker of parliament backs Hezbollah

Nabih Berri, Lebanon's speaker of parliament and leading Shia politician, says his Shia Amal movement and Hezbollah would join forces against Israel's offensive in Lebanon.

    Berri (R) and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah are allies

    Israel targeted Amal positions in south Lebanon on Friday for the first time since the beginning of its offensive two weeks ago. 

    Berri also urged Arab governments to support Hezbollah and join the fight against Israel.

    "Are they waiting for the fire that is raging in Lebanon to spread to them?" Berri asked during an interview on Friday with Aljazeera.

    "You must force the country that supports you and Israel to resolve the conflict in the whole Middle East," he said, referring to the US.

    "I know you all love Lebanon, but is this platonic love or a love that will urge you to action?

    "Believe me, Arab leaders, Israel is not fighting Hezbollah ... it is waging war on all of Lebanon," he said, adding that "it is the duty of Arabs to participate in this war".

    Berri also expressed dismay at the fact that an Arab summit had yet to be convened on Lebanon, saying: "If this aggression on the people of Lebanon and Palestine does not warrant a summit, then what does?"

    Conspiracy and revenge

    He described Israel's response to Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers two weeks ago as a "conspiracy" against Lebanon.

    More than 450 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 51 Israelis have been killed since the July 12 capture of the soldiers.

    He also said Israel was "avenging its defeat" by Hezbollah in 2000, when the Jewish state pulled out of south Lebanon after occupying a buffer zone along its border since 1982.

    Berri, who acts as an intermediary between Hezbollah and the international community, reiterated a previous offer to free the two Israeli soldiers in exchange for freeing Lebanese detainees held by Israel.

    But he said that prior to a prisoner swap, a ceasefire had to be secured and the safe return home of Lebanese displaced by the recent violence.

    The United Nations has put their number at 800,000.

    "After that, serious negotiating about other points could be conducted under Lebanese sovereignty," Berri said.

    Berri warned that Lebanon's fragile sectarian balance between a majority of Muslims – Sunnis and Shia - and Christians could be endangered if the showdown with Israel went on for too long.

    "If this war continues, it will affect the Lebanese regime," he said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera


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