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Israel should not panic over a Hezbollah run Lebanon: Experts

January 25, 2011 - Jerusalem

Analysts have said that there is no immediate need for Israel to be alarmed over the prospect of a Lebanese government being backed by its worst enemy, the Hezbollah.

Professor Efraim Inbar, the director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, said that while "the Hezbollization of Lebanon" is continuing, he did not see the militant group going on an immediate shooting spree, as they were currently busy with internal affairs.

Israeli officials said they are closely following the developments across the northern border, which they said attested to Hezbollah's growing strength.

"We are concerned about Iranian domination of Lebanon through its proxy, Hezbollah," said an Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The idea of a Hezbollah-backed government raises all sorts of questions, he added, including that of Lebanon's commitment to United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, which ended Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah and underpins the four-year-old cease-fire.

That resolution calls for the government to extend its control over all Lebanese territory, and for all armed groups, including Hezbollah, to be disarmed.

A deadly cross-border raid by Hezbollah - a Shiite movement that is backed by Iran - precipitated the month-long war with Israel that killed more than 1,200 people.

Israeli military officials say Hezbollah has since rearmed, building a stockpile of more than 40,000 rockets, including many that can reach far into Israel.

The Israeli official said Israel was interested in maintaining quiet.

"We are not going to give the other side any excuse whatsoever to initiate an escalation along the border," he said.

Some Israelis even see a potential benefit in having a government in Lebanon led by Najib Miqati, a Sunni businessman who is Hezbollah's candidate.

"If Hezbollah is behind the government, it will be much easier to explain to the international community why we must fight against the State of Lebanon," said Israel's former National Security Adviser Giora Eiland.

Eiland is now a senior research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.


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