President of Lebanon Michel Aoun
President of Lebanon Michel Aoun
Photo: EPA
President of Lebanon Michel Aoun

Lebanese president hedges over eventual peace with Israel in interview

Concerning whether his country would consider forwarding formal ties with the Jewish state, Aoun states 'it depends' and that Beirut has problems to solve with Jerusalem first

AFP |
Published: 08.16.20 , 18:02
Lebanese President Michel Aoun, ally of Israel's arch-foe Hezbollah, seemed to leave the door open to eventual peace with the Jewish state, in an interview with French news channel BFMTV.
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  • Lebanon has technically been at war with neighboring Israel for decades, with tensions sporadically flaring in the border area in Lebanon's south, a stronghold of the Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah movement.
    President of Lebanon Michel AounPresident of Lebanon Michel Aoun
    President of Lebanon Michel Aoun
    (Photo: EPA)
    Asked in an interview on BFMTV on Saturday whether Lebanon would be prepared to make peace with Israel, Aoun responded: "That depends. We have problems with Israel, we have to resolve them first."
    His statement came in the wake of an announcement Thursday that Israel would normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates, only the third Arab state to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel since its creation in 1948.
    "It's an independent country," Aoun said of the UAE.
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in televised speech to followersHezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in televised speech to followers
    Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in a televised speech to followers
    (Photo: EPA)
    Aoun's Christian Free Patriotic Movement has for years been politically allied with Hezbollah, enabling them to dominate parliament and the government, which resigned on Monday amid outrage over negligence that led to the deadly explosion at Beirut's port that devastated the capital.
    Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday of the Israel-UAE agreement that "it's a betrayal of Jerusalem and the Palestinian people. It's a knife in the back."
    A key point of contention between Lebanon and Israel concerns oil and gas resources in the eastern Mediterranean, where both countries have sought bids for exploration in their exclusive economic zones.
    The maritime border between the countries is disputed.
    Earth moving equipment and rescue workers search for victims in Beirut, Lebanon, near the site of last week's explosion that hit the city's seaport Earth moving equipment and rescue workers search for victims in Beirut, Lebanon, near the site of last week's explosion that hit the city's seaport
    Earth-moving equipment and rescue workers search for victims in Beirut, Lebanon, near the site of last week's explosion that hit the city's seaport
    (Photo: AP)
    Aoun's interview was aired in the aftermath of the Beirut blast on August 4 that killed 177 people and wounded at least 6,500 more, with many blaming systemic corruption and negligence of the entrenched political class for the disaster.
    Many Lebanese have demanded the ouster of the entire ruling class, dominated by ex-warlords from the country's 1975-1990 civil war, including Aoun.
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