Hezbollah: Israel Planning to Destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque

Syrian President Assad and Lebanese Druze leader meet after 5-year feud, discuss 'importance of resistance against Israel.'

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has accused Israel of plotting to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem, in an interview with Al-Manar television on Wednesday.

The Hezbollah leader also said that is responsible for the blame put on Hezbollah for the death of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri,.

"Well known sources in Lebanon blamed Syria, as did Arab and international officials,' Nasrallah told Al-Manar, adding that "then Israeli officials and the Israeli media said that the Hezbollah is behind the assassination."

"The American Zionist lobby then came out and blamed the Hezbollah for the attacks in September 2000 [meaning 2001], and there were U.S. officials who blamed us for cooperating with al-Qaida," he added.

Nasrallah's comments come following a reconciliation meeting between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who had a falling out after the assassination of Hariri.

Assad met Jumblatt on Wednesday, the official Syrian news agency said, sealing a reconciliation with one of his fiercest former critics in Lebanon.

The two former rivals discussed the importance of resistance against Israel, referring to the Lebanese organization Hezbollah.

The meeting consolidates Syria's political gains in Lebanon as it restores influence lost when it withdrew troops from its neighbor five years ago under international pressure. It also opens channels with Lebanese politicians who have been firmly in the U.S.-backed camp.

"The meeting discussed the importance of role of the resistance as a guarantee against Israeli plans," the news agency said, in reference to Hezbollah, which mediated the meeting.

Jumblatt had turned fiercely anti-Syrian after the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri and criticized Assad as responsible for the killing.

But he has since said good ties with Syria were crucial to prevent Lebanon from descending into chaos and to preserve its Druze minority.

Syria denies any role in the Hariri killing, which is being investigated by a special tribunal set up by the United Nations in 2006.

On Wednesday Lebanese Shi'te militant faction Hezbollah was preparing a public relations onslaught amid fears that investigators will accuse it of playing a role in the killing.

Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah was due night to give a rare television interview on Wednesday to the group satellite station Al-Manar, in which he is expected to deny any part in the murder.

Arab sources say that the possibility of Hezbollah's involvement has arisen with increasing frequency in talks with European officials over the past few months.

Hezbollah, which fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006, is seen across the Arab world as a resistance movement but is also a political party and holds two ministerial portfolios in the unity government of Said Hariri, son of the murdered premier.

Wiab Wahhab, a Lebanese minister, told a Kuwaiti newspaper on Tuesday that the UN probe had set its sights on Hezbollah from the outset and accused the United States of manipulating the investigation to implicate the group.

Another Lebanese newspaper, Al-Diar, reported that European diplomats had been taking soundings in Lebanon in to guage reactions among the country's multiple ethnic factions in the event the UN accuses Hezbollah of the killing.

Over the weekend, Hezbollah officials were quoted as saying that they had no objection to the Hariri inquiry and were looking forward to proving the group's innocence.