Aoun, Hariri vow to confront “Israeli aggression”

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These comments come a day after Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council released a statement indicating that the army has been instructed to confront Israel if it proceeds with plans to build a cement wall along its disputed border with Lebanon.

by Georgi Azar

BEIRUT: Chairing a Cabinet session Thursday, President Michel Aoun vowed to “prevent any Israeli aggression on Lebanon’s land and water”, before asserting that discussions with the United Nations to solve this matter are ongoing.

“We hope to put an end to this matter through diplomatic channels, yet our military has been given the orders to confront any threat to our sovereignty,” Aoun said. 

These comments come a day after Lebanon’s Higher Defense Council released a statement indicating that the army has been instructed to confront Israel if it proceeds with plans to build a cement wall along its disputed border with Lebanon.

Aoun’s sentiments were echoed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri as well, who maintained that “communications with the international community are underway to confront Israel’s ambitions.”

Israel’s expansion comes in the midst of it claiming its right to a southern Lebanese oil block that is situated in disputed waters. Lebanon considers that block 9 falls under its jurisdiction.

Amid the escalating tensions between the two neighbors, Hariri called on “all political parties to put aside their differences and stand united in the face of Israel’s aggression.”

Meanwhile, Israel’s military said all work was “being carried out in sovereign Israeli territory.” Parts of the militarized border have been fenced off for years.

Members of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL could be seen stationed Thursday along the border where the wall is being built, with the area seeing increased movement of Lebanese Army vehicles.

Lebanese and Israeli military officials met Monday to discuss the issues in regular U.N.-sponsored talks. Andrea Tenenti, the spokesperson for UNIFIL, said both parties demonstrated their commitment to preserving stability.

The charged rhetoric emanating from Israel comes at a time when Lebanon is nearing its exploration phase of oil and gas fields situated along its coast, with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liebman describing these efforts as “very provocative.” – With AP

 

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