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Mofaz: Hizbullah may form Iranian proxy-state in Lebanon
ByELIEZER SHERMAN
January 23, 2011 19:35
Knesset c'tee tours northern border, briefed on IDF activities and Hizbullah deployment; local residents claim communities are ignored.
Shaul Mofaz [file photo]

Mofaz northern border 311. (photo credit:Courtesy)

Hizbullah could form an Iranian proxy state in Lebanon, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chair MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said, during a tour of the northern border Sunday.

“For some time there has been Iranian intervention in Sunni-Shi’ite struggles. We fear that the chance of Hizbullah establishing an Iranian proxy-state in Lebanon is quite high,” Mofaz said.

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In Beirut, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah told Al- Manar that he did not rule out anyone as the new prime minister of Lebanon.

But Hizbullah and its allies said they won’t name caretaker prime minister Saad Hariri to form a new Cabinet during two days of consultations that begin Monday.

They have not publicly said whom they will name instead.

Sunni Muslim religious leaders warned Hizbullah on Sunday not to ignore their sect’s opinion ahead of key parliamentary talks to pick a new prime minister.

The clerics, led by Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the Sunnis’ spiritual leader in Lebanon, said after a meeting they support Hariri because he represents majority of Sunnis.

"We warn against ignoring the Sunni majority and the parliament majority,” the leaders said in a statement.

“We also warn against the dangers of an imposed government.”

Ministers from Hizbullah and its allies toppled Hariri’s government on January 12 after walking out because of disagreements over a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri, Saad Hariri’s father.

Committee MKs traveled a length of the Israel- Lebanon border, meeting with members of Division 91, the patrol unit on the Lebanese border, and also with a forum of residents who reside in communities along the sporadically turbulent northern line.

During the committee’s visit with Division 91, members were briefed on the current deployment of Hizbullah forces along border, as well as how the situation has shifted in the years since the end of the Second Lebanon War.

The committee was briefed by OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on the division’s empowerment and increased weapons arsenal, as well as preparations it was making to respond to any scenario that might evolve from the publication of indictments from the International Court’s investigation of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination.

At the end of the army review, the panel participated in a short tree-planting ceremony.

AP contributed to this report.
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