Regional powers monitor poll

Israel "concerned" about the possibility of election handing more power to Hezbollah.

    Israeli forces fought a 33-day war against
    Hezbollah fighters in 2006 [EPA]

    "The Iranian threat is gaining speed and obliges us, together with the moderate Arab states and the United States, to take action."

    'Very concerned'

    Tehran and Damascus both support Hezbollah, which was formed after Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982.

    "Hezbollah is the real force in Lebanon and has all the weapons and all the fighters," Yoni Ben-Menachem, editor-in-chief of Israel Radio-KOL, told Al Jazeera.

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    "Israel is watching very closely and is very concerned."

    "Hezbollah has been amassing three times as many missiles as they had before the war they started a couple of years ago, and they would immediately use the leadership of Lebanon to attack Israel," he said.

    The Israeli military fought a 33-day war with Hezbollah fighters in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006 that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

    Syria's official Al-Baath newspaper hailed Hezbollah's position on Israel in an editorial on Sunday and urged voters to support the Shia Muslim party and its allies.

    "Lebanon has achieved great victories over Israel by liberating its occupied territories, recovering its hostages and repatriating the remains of its martyrs," it said.

    "The Lebanese could today, through the ballot box, consolidate this policy line which has held aloft Lebanon's torch."

    Syria effectively controlled Lebanon for nearly three decades, after its military was asked to intervene during the civil war in 1976.

    It withdrew in 2005 following mass protests over the assassination of Rafiq al-Hariri, a former prime minister of Lebanon.

    But relations between Damascus and Beirut have warmed in recent years, with the two countries finally establishing diplomatic ties earlier in 2009.

    "I think that Syria is willing to deal with any government in Beirut as long as it doesn't take a hostile position towards Syria," Marwan Karbalan, a political analyst at Damascus University, told Al Jazeera.

    'Terrorist group'

    The United States and other countries, including Saudi Arabia, has backed the current Sunni-led March 14 parliamentary majority. 

    Washington considers Hezbollah to be a "terrorist" group and has linked future aid to the shape and policies of the next government.

    However, Jimmy Carter, the former US president, who is acting as an election observer at the Lebanese vote, suggested that the US administration would engage with a Lebanese government including Hezbollah.

    "I was talking last night to the White House representatives," he told reporters on Sunday.

    "They reminded me that in [US] President [Barack] Obama's speech he made it very clear that the United States would accept the results of elections around the world from a democratic society, if they are honest and fair and free."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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