Hezbollah should disarm: Jumblatt

Daily Star Egypt Staff
3 Min Read

CAIRO: Prominent Lebanese MP Walid Jumblatt said Sunday there was no justification for Hezbollah fighters to continue bearing arms because Israeli troops have long ago withdrawn from Lebanese territory. That s unacceptable, the anti-Syrian Druze chief told reporters in Cairo after a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak on the situation in Lebanon and ties with its neighbor Syria. Why should Lebanon alone continue to be an arena for Arab-Israeli conflict? Jumblatt asked. Lebanese leaders are divided over the disarmament of the military wing of the Shiite fundamentalist group Hezbollah, whose fighters were widely credited for bringing about Israel s withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000 after 22 years of occupation. Jumblatt suggested that Hezbollah fighters be integrated into the Lebanese army, saying the Lebanese state must have control over all weapons and territories … It s time Lebanon enjoys a semblance of peace. But Prime Minister Fuad Siniora suggested last month that Hezbollah s disarmament should only come after the withdrawal of Israeli soldiers from the disputed Shebaa Farms area at the convergence of Syria, Israel and Lebanon. If the U.S. and friendly countries help us achieve the withdrawal of Israel from Shebaa Farms, this would make it possible for the Lebanese forces to be the sole owner of weapons and arms in the country, Siniora said in an interview with The Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine. Hezbollah has vowed to carry on a guerrilla war to free the Shebaa Farms, which Israel seized from Syria along with the Golan Heights in 1967 but is claimed by Lebanon with Damascus s approval. Syria has refused international calls to draw its nebulous border with Lebanon, saying it cannot be done in the Shebaa Farms area because the territory is under Israeli occupation. Hezbollah was formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. Washington considers Hezbollah a terrorist organization because it has been linked to numerous attacks on Americans, including a 1983 Beirut truck bombing that killed more than 200 US Marines. Thousands of active militants belong to the group, which is also a key provider of social, cultural and educational services to traditionally impoverished Shiites. Hezbollah is also a powerful political movement that sat in the previous legislature, and garnered a large bloc of seats in the May-June 2005 parliament vote along with Shiite ally Amal. AFP

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