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Israel Accuses Iran, Hizbullah of Consolidating Hamas Military Capabilities

The Israeli army leadership accused Iran and Hizbullah of continuing to consolidate Hamas' military capabilities by transferring advanced weapons to the Islamist movement.

The army leadership said it decided to change the rules of the game following increased rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip on Israel.

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Paris Brushes Aside Khamenei's Comments on Tribunal

France brushed aside comments by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urging different sides in Lebanon and the region to encourage dialogue and national interest.

"The international tribunal is an independent authority that was established by a Security Council resolution and with the support of Lebanese authorities," French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said Tuesday.

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Jumblat Lashes 'False Witness' Geagea

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat on Wednesday slammed Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea and said he has become similar to a "false witness."

"We didn't vote (inside cabinet) to avoid a government crisis," Jumblat told al-Akhbar newspaper about the last cabinet session which was adjourned without reaching a solution on false witnesses.

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Raad: Hizbullah Willing to Compromise on False Witnesses' Issue

Head of Hizbullah's Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc MP Mohammed Raad said Hizbullah was willing to compromise on the false witnesses' issue, but warned that Hizbullah is a "red line that cannot be bypassed."

He confirmed the existence of a "plan for a solution" being mulled by Syria and Saudi Arabia to find a way out of the Lebanon crisis.

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U.S. Hits Iran with New Sanctions over Nukes, Support for Hizbullah

The U.S. Treasury Department has expanded punitive sanctions against Iran over its nuclear and missile programs and support for Hizbullah.

The Department added five Iranian companies to its financial blacklist, including two banks, an insurance company, a freight forwarder and the state-owned shipper, the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

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Anti-tank Missile at Gaza Front Revives Memories of 2006 War

Israeli army chief of staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi has unveiled that an anti-tank missile used by Hizbullah during the 2006 war penetrated a tank's outer shell earlier this month.

Ashkenazi told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that the Kornet missile fired in the Gaza Strip penetrated the tank's outer shell but failed to explode inside. There were no injuries in the incident.

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Ammar Says Sfeir Will be Punched Back

Hizbullah MP Ali Ammar snapped back at Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir on Tuesday warning that the Shiite party would verbally attack the patriarch if he continues to keep himself in the "boxing ring."

"If we answer back to any political stance that Patriarch Sfeir makes … we would be told that we are targeting a certain sanctity," Ammar told OTV.

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Berri Hails Tehran's Role in Lebanon, Says Not Satisfied by Level of Ties

Speaker Nabih Berri hailed the role that Tehran is playing in Lebanon, saying that thanks to Iran's presence there is no longer unilateralism in the world.

"Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Islamic republic of Iran is playing that unique role," Berri told IRNA news agency. "That's why its influence is not only felt in Lebanon but thanks to Iran's presence there's no longer unilateralism."

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Government Crisis Shows No Sign of Abating

Sources close to Premier Saad Hariri ruled out a possibility to hold a cabinet session before New Year after Speaker Nabih Berri reiterated that the government should have the final say on the issue of false witnesses in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's murder case, al-Liwaa daily reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said that President Michel Suleiman, Berri and Hariri discussed the possibility of holding a cabinet session between Christmas and New Year on the sidelines of a Christmas concert at Baabda palace on Sunday.

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Report: Hariri, Nasrallah Gave Consent to Saudi-Syrian Proposal

Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah have accepted the Saudi-Syrian initiative in all its details, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat reported Tuesday.

The newspaper said that all sides involved in the agreement between Damascus and Riyadh to solve the Lebanese crisis, primarily Hariri and Nasrallah, were informed about the deal.

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