Salam Urges End to 'Israeli Aggressiveness', Says Hizbullah Won't Drag Lebanon into Gaza War

Prime Minister Tammam Salam on Sunday ruled out a role for Hizbullah in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian groups, urging an end to the Israeli “aggressiveness” and “hegemony” in the region.

“If we can put an end to Israeli hegemony and to Israeli aggressiveness in this region, we will put an end to many violence in this region and if we cannot do that, violence will prevail,” Salam said in English in an interview on CNN.

“You cannot build a country, you cannot build a future for any people under the banner of violence, under military might. That cannot go on,” he added.

Salam said force “can be exercised from time to time” but will not achieve any objectives for Israel.

“We have a seen a live example in Lebanon in 2006. With all the military might of Israel they were not able to subdue or occupy Lebanon, so why to keep ... trying to do this now with the Palestinians?” the premier asked rhetorically.

Asked about the likelihood of Hizbullah getting involved in the current war and “dragging Lebanon” into the the conflict, Salam said: “For the moment I don't see Hizbullah getting Lebanon involved in this conflict, unless the Israelis want to … direct their military machine towards Lebanon.”

Commenting on the several rocket attacks from southern Lebanon against northern Israel that have taken place during the assault on Gaza, the PM said unorganized “individuals” fired the rockets under the influence of “sentiments before anything else.”

Asked what keeps him awake at night, Salam said “the security situation.”

“That is a time bomb in the midst of extremism and of violence that's prevailing in the region. Of course that can upset at any moment the stability of the country and that's why we are supporting as best as we can our security forces,” Salam added.

“There again we require a lot of external support,” he said.

The premier explained that “as much as those forces are vigilant and as much as they are active, as much as we can prevent extremism and we can prevent violence from coming into Lebanon.”

Asked how much “influence” Syria has in Lebanon nowadays, Salam answered: “I believe Syria has its own concerns, they have their own worries, so they don't have time.”

“Luckily we enjoy now in Lebanon some freedom of action,” he added.

The premier reminded that recently Lebanon has received “a substantial ... unprecedented support from Saudi Arabia for the Lebanese Army, with three billion dollars for a small country like Lebanon.”

Commenting on the protracting presidential vacuum in Lebanon, Salam described it as “a major political problem.”

“Any state without a head is not a full state and yet we have a safety net in the form of a coalition government trying to carry on (with) matters,” Salam added.

“Unfortunately we have the negative effects of this vacuum, which immediately almost paralyzed the legislative branch. Our parliament is not being able neither to legislate nor to elect a new president,” Salam lamented, urging all political forces to gather and elect a new president.

“As long as the political factions, all the political factions, do not get to a point where they should gather and decide on electing a president, we will be suffering,” Salam warned.


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