Suleiman with US president
Photo: Reuters
Lebanon won't ask Hezbollah to disarm
President says gov't can't ask group to disarm before reaching deal on defense from Israeli attack
Lebanon's president says the government cannot ask Hezbollah to give up its weapons at a time of heightened tension with Israel.


A UN deal to end the 2006 war between Israel and the Shiite militants required Hezbollah to disarm, but Lebanon's politicians have been unable to agree on a national defense strategy that would integrate the group's weapons into the regular armed forces.


President Michel Suleiman said Saturday that Lebanon "cannot and must not" tell Hezbollah to disarm before reaching a deal on a defense strategy that would also address any future Israeli attacks.


Israeli officals are concerned with Hezbollah's recent armament. Head of the Military Intelligence's (MI) research department Brig.-Gen. Yossi Baidatz said on Tuesday that "weapons are transferred to Hezbollah on a regular basis and this transfer is organized by the Syrian and Iranian regimes.


"Therefore, it should not be called smuggling of arms to Lebanon – it is organized and official transfer." He also claimed that "the transfer of long-range missiles that was recently published is only the tip of the iceberg."


Baidatz briefed the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on the current state of affairs and stressed that "today, Hezbollah has an arsenal of thousands of rockets of all types and ranges, including long-range solid-fuel rockets and more precise rockets."  


A recent Israeli claim that Hezbollah's arsenal includes Scud missiles transferred from Syria has provoked another exchange of warnings between Israel and Lebanon.


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