Hezbollah: Israel behind assassinations in Lebanon
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah accused Israel yesterday of being behind the series of political assassinations in Lebanon that has targeted lawmakers and other public figures.
In an interview with Lebanese television, Nasrallah said Israel carried out the attacks in order to sow strife in the country between its various factions.
"Israel has the most to gain by these assassinations," Nasrallah said. "It wants to tear Lebanon from Syria - and prove Lebanon can't take care of its own security so that security agencies will be in charge of security here, like in Iraq."
During the interview, which was aired simultaneously on both Lebanon's NBN and Hezbolllah's station Al-Manar, Nasrallah denied claims that his terrorist organization took orders from its ally Iran, and said it reached its decisions independently.
"It's a lie propagated by the media" he said about Iran's alleged influence over his group. "We influence Iranian policy in the region more than they do us."
Turning to the U.S., Nasrallah claimed Washington was interested in establishing a foothold in Lebanon in order to impose peace with Israel, eliminate Hezbollah, and "destroy the Palestinian refugees' right of return by settling them in Lebanon."
On the issue of the political crisis in Lebanon, Nasrallah declared that no president will be elected in the country unless the Syrian-backed opposition gets a veto power in the future government.
He charged that the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority is to blame for creating the current presidential deadlock by refusing a partnership with the Hezbollah-led opposition.
"A solution lies in a partnership through a constitutional guarantee [and] through a veto power for the opposition, which represents more than half of the Lebanese people," Nasrallah said.
Nasrallah said his party supported Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman for president to replace pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud, whose term ended on Nov. 23 without a successor being chosen.
"But Suleiman's election," he said, "will not solve the problem without a national unity government in which the opposition gets a veto power."
A parliamentary session to elect Lebanon's president was postponed for the 11th time on Dec. 28 with feuding factions deadlocked over a constitutional amendment and the shape of a future government. A new parliament session has been set for Jan. 12.
The crisis over the presidency has capped a yearlong power struggle between anti-Syrian politicians, who hold a slim majority in parliament and support the Western-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, and the opposition, led by Hezbollah.
Nasrallah blamed the deadlock on the ruling coalition, which wants to fully control authority and rejects partnership with the other party.
"Today, the real problem is the principle of partnership," Nasrallah said. "A veto power means that the opposition becomes a partner"" in government.
Lawmakers on both sides have agreed to back Suleiman as a compromise candidate, but parliament must first amend the constitution to allow a sitting military chief to become president.
This process has been complicated by the opposition's demand for a new unity government that would give it veto power over major decisions. Opposition boycotts have thwarted attempts to choose a president by preventing a two-thirds quorum.