Israel’s threat of war tops Beirut agendas

5 02 2010

By Elias Sakr
Daily Star staff
Friday, February 05, 2010

BEIRUT: The possibility that a future Israeli war against Lebanon could expand regionally amid a stalled Middle East peace process dominated discussions between foreign envoys and local officials on Thursday, as Hizbullah officials received a rare visit by a top United Nations representative. Senator Philippe Marini, who is French President Nicholas Sarkozy’s special envoy to Lebanon, voiced his concern about the repercussions of a loss of momentum on the peace negotiations front.
“There is always danger in this region and in the event that hope is lost in resuming peace talks in the upcoming months by the Palestinian side, tensions will rise,” Marini said.
On Wednesday, Lebanon’s Cabinet stressed its united stance against all forms of Israeli threats against Lebanon, while Prime Minister Saad Hariri said he would launch a series of international contacts to face such challenges.
Hariri left Lebanon on Thursday for a private visit to France. Sources close to the prime ministers said Hariri, who is traveling with his family, wasn’t expected to hold official discussions during the three-day trip.
Following a meeting with Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, Marini told reporters that Lebanese officials could agree on certain points regarding the presence of Hizbullah’s weapons from a tactical point of view, but disagreed over the issue on a future strategic level.
He also said he feared an upcoming war between Hizbullah and Israel and its expansion to a regional one.
Marini added that the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons could not be discussed with the Israelis, since their position concerning the issue was “sharp.”
Hizbullah’s secretary general, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, is expected to tackle Israeli threats against Lebanon in a speech on February 16, to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of resistance commander Imad Mughniyeh.
Marini stressed France’s commitment to Lebanese sovereignty and independence, adding that his country among others was “on alert concerning any developments in the Middle East.”
“On several occasions, France has acted in defense of Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, principles which should not be harmed an essential component not only in Lebanon but in the region as well,” Marini said.
Former MP Ammar Mousawi, responsible for international relations with Hizbullah, said Thursday that Israeli continuous threats against Lebanon were not necessarily an introduction to a new aggression but rather “multi-directional letters.”

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