Suleiman Beirut 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Lebanese officials are playing down concerns that the fighting in Gaza will spark renewed fighting between Israel and Hizbullah.
President Michel Suleiman expressed concern that Israel would blame Beirut for eight missiles recently found deployed in southern Lebanon to drag it into a conflict.
Suleiman met with French president Nicolas Sarkozy in Beirut on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Gaza.
Sa'ad Hariri, who heads the majority bloc in the Lebanese parliament, dismissed speculation that Hizbullah would open a new front by firing missiles into Israel.
Hariri said the consequences of engaging in war with Israel were known to Lebanon's political parties.
"I'm sure Hizbullah will make no bad mistake this time," he said, according to AFP.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak has said Israel was keeping a watchful eye on the northern border.
Prof. Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, a political scientist from Notre Dame University in Beirut, said he did not believe Hizbullah would wage war on Israel, even though Israel was preoccupied in the south.
"Hizbullah always chooses its own fights. They'd never allow Israel or the Palestinians to drag them into a conflict they don't want," Sensenig-Dabbous told The Media Line.
"The strategy of the Israelis in Lebanon, in my opinion, is being refined. Hizbullah is interested in observing what the Israelis are doing in Gaza, because it wants to see how the [IDF] is performing. Both sides, Hizbullah and the Israel Defense Forces are studying strategies and tactics for when the war starts again in Lebanon, and I'm sure it will."
Politically, Hizbullah has a lot to lose from engaging in a conflict with Israel. Hizbullah is expected to make gains in upcoming elections.
"I don't see what purpose a war with Israel would serve for them, when they can expand their power base in Lebanon using democratic means," Sensenig-Dabbous said.
Palestinians residing in Lebanon view the situation in Gaza with concern but say the situation will not drive them to take up arms against Israel or the Lebanese army.
Palestinian in Lebanon could do very little to help Gazans, Ali Hweidi, secretary general of the Thabit Organization for the Right of Return, told The Media Line.
"[Palestinians in Lebanon] can only carry weapons inside camps and they are prevented from doing anything against Israel or helping the Palestinians in Gaza," Hweidi said.
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