Nas­ral­lah de­mands gov’t po­si­tion for Sunni ally

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS -

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Hezbol­lah leader Sayyed Has­san Nas­ral­lah in­sisted that one of its Sunni al­lies be given a port­fo­lio in a new Le­banese cabi­net, and in­di­cated it would be ready to go back to square one in ne­go­ti­at­ing a govern­ment if nec­es­sary.

In a tele­vised speech on Satur­day, Nas­ral­lah also warned Is­rael that his Ira­nian-backed group would re­spond to any at­tack on Le­banon and urged his coun­try to with­stand diplo­matic pressure over its rocket arsenal.

Hezbol­lah’s de­mand for one of its Sunni al­lies to be given a port­fo­lio in the new Le­banese govern­ment is at the heart of a row that has ob­structed a fi­nal agree­ment six months since a par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

The for­ma­tion of a new govern­ment is nec­es­sary be­fore any moves can be made to­ward fiscal re­forms which the In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund said in June are needed im­me­di­ately to im­prove debt sus­tain­abil­ity.

Hezbol­lah says one of its Sunni al­lies must be rep­re­sented in the govern­ment to re­flect their elec­tion gains.

But Prime Min­is­ter-des­ig­nate Saad al-Hariri, who is Le­banon’s main Sunni politi­cian and en­joys Western back­ing, has ruled out al­lo­cat­ing any of his cabi­net seats to them.

Le­banon’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem re­quires govern­ment po­si­tions to be al­lot­ted along sec­tar­ian lines.

Nas­ral­lah said re­ject­ing a Sunni ally from its “March 8” camp amounted to ex­clu­sion of a sec­tion of Le­banese.

“We were sin­cere when we spoke of a na­tional unity govern­ment. There is no na­tional logic, or moral logic, or le­gal logic... For any­one in Le­banon to come out and say ‘it is for­bid­den for the March 8 Sun­nis to be rep­re­sented in the Le­banese govern­ment,’” Nas­ral­lah said.

“If it is for­bid­den, come let’s talk again from the start,” he said, adding: “We don’t want con­flict, or ten­sion, or es­ca­la­tion.”

Pres­i­dent Michel Aoun vowed ear­lier on Satur­day to find a so­lu­tion to the prob­lem. Though a po­lit­i­cal ally of Hezbol­lah, Aoun has sided with Hariri in the row.

Hezbol­lah, groups and in­di­vid­u­als that sup­port its pos­ses­sion of weapons won more than 70 of the 128 seats in the May 6 par­lia­men­tary elec­tion.

Nas­ral­lah said Is­rael had re­cently tried to in­crease pressure over the group’s rocket arsenal and to cre­ate “a state of in­tim­i­da­tion and threat that if this mat­ter is not dealt with, it [Is­rael] will deal with it.” Is­rael had used “the Amer­i­cans and even some Euro­pean states” in this ef­fort, he said.

(Aziz Ta­her/Reuters)

HEZBOL­LAH’S LEADER Sayyed Has­san Nas­ral­lah warns Is­rael via a tele­vised ad­dress yes­ter­day that his Ira­nian-backed group would re­spond to any at­tack on Le­banon.

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