Nasrallah Attacks Saudis for 'Normalizing Ties With Israel'

A delegation of Saudi officials visited Israel last week, but the kingdom's foreign ministry later downplayed the visit.

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters via a screen during a memorial service to mourn the death of Hezbollah commander Hajj Ismail Zahri, who died due to illness, in Nabatieh, southern Lebanon July 29, 2016.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah attacked Saudi Arabia in a speech Friday, charging that the country was normalizing relations with Israel, the Lebanese government news agency reported.

According to the report, in the speech which was screened at a memorial service, Nasrallah said "Saudi Arabia has taken advantage of the ailing Arab situation, only to build relations with Israel; the price will be at the account of the Palestinians."

The Lebanese leader warned, according to the report, that "This is free normalization with Israel and this will open the doors to other states than Saudi Arabia to follow suit."

He further said that this was a "cultural disaster" and that "Everybody must now take a clear position."

Last week, retired Saudi General Anwar Eshki visited Israel and met with Foreign Ministry Director-General Dore Gold and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai. Eshki, who headed a delegation of Saudi academics and business people, also met with a group of Knesset members to encourage dialogue in Israel on the Arab Peace Initiative.

A few days later, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry distanced itself from the visit.

The Saudi-owned al-Hayat newspaper quotes on Wednesday an unnamed ministry official as saying the rare public engagement "does not reflect the views of the Saudi government."

The official referred to Israel as "the occupied territories."

Saudi Arabia and Israel have no official relations and the kingdom prohibits its citizens from traveling to Israel. It also does not grant visas to Israelis.

However, Saudi government permission was likely necessary for Anwar Eshki and the delegation of Saudi academics and businessmen to make the visit.