PM Hariri: Israel wants a new war against Lebanon

Mon Apr 3, 2017 6:37AM
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri (Photo by AFP)
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri (Photo by AFP)

Lebanese Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri says recent Israeli actions have indicated a desire for a new conflict after Tel Aviv unveiled the latest addition to its missile system.

In an interview with France24 TV station after arriving in Paris on Sunday, Hariri also dismissed concerns that Hezbollah might provoke a conflict with Israel.

“I think that Israel is the one that wants to launch a war against Lebanon, and not Hezbollah,” he said.

“Israel does not want the Arabs to rest. Look at the daily Israeli violations of our airspace, land and territorial waters,” Hariri added.

Hariri’s comments came after Israel unveiled the “David’s Sling” missile system at Hatzor air force base in central occupied Palestinian territories.

The system became operational amid heightened tensions along northern borders with Lebanon and Syria. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the missile system was meant against the “existence” of those who allegedly sought to destroy Israel.

Last month, Israeli warplanes struck several targets in Syria, drawing retaliatory missile fire from Syrian forces, in the most serious incident between the two sides since the start of war in Syria in 2011.

After the retaliation, Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman threatened to destroy Syria’s air defense systems “without the slightest hesitation” if such an incident were to happen again.

Israel has carried out strikes within Syrian borders to stop what it says are deliveries of advanced weapons to Hezbollah which is fighting Takfiri terrorists the Arab country. The Israeli assaults, however, have often followed Syrian army advances, raising suspicions of Israeli attempts to change the tide in favor of militants.

Last month, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said Netanyahu had recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow to express his deep concern over the likely collapse of Daesh in Syria.

Tel Aviv has also escalated its aggressive rhetoric and military incursions into southern Lebanon, prompting President Michel Aoun to warn that any Israeli attempt to violate his country’s sovereignty would be met with an “appropriate response.”

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said last month “life in Lebanon today is not bad” compared to Syria, adding Tel Aviv should target civilians in a future war with the country and send it “back to the Middle Ages.”

A Hezbollah fighter monitors an area as he stands on a hill on the Lebanese side of the Qalamoun mountains on the border with Syria, May 20, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

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Israeli threats forced the Lebanese government to task Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil with preparing a report for the UN Security Council regarding a potential conflict.

Bassil was asked to prepare a “list of Israeli stances in media and a detailed letter to the Security Council to press the international community to uphold its responsibilities in the face of the intentional and public escalation [of the threat] to the region’s stability.”

Mon Apr 3, 2017 2:11AM
This file photo taken on February 23, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump alongside White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner (L), during a meeting with manufacturing CEOs in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)
This file photo taken on February 23, 2017 shows US President Donald Trump alongside White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner (L), during a meeting with manufacturing CEOs in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by AFP)

Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and top aide to US President Donald Trump, has traveled to Iraq for an official visit, a senior US official says.

Kushner was being accompanied by General Joe Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Trump administration officials said on Sunday.

Kushner’s objective was not clear but it seems the US military’s ongoing campaign against alleged Daesh (ISIL) positions in Iraq and Syria were high up on the agenda.

The Pentagon arranged the visit shortly after Trump mentioned it in a conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

According to some reports, Kushner might also discuss Iraq’s reported business investment requests. Apparently, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has been reviewing some of those requests over the past few days.

A senior administration official told CBS News that Kushner was trying to get a better picture of the overall situation in Iraq and show his support for the Iraqi government.

Nevertheless, the trip bears special significance for Trump, since he has also tasked Kushner, who lacks political experience, with brokering a peace deal between Palestine and Israel.

“If you can’t produce in the Middle East, nobody can,” Trump told his son-in-law at an event days before inauguration.

Kushner is also one of the key Trump associates involved in the investigation into his alleged ties to the Russian government.

The White House confirmed last week that Kushner had volunteered to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee and answer their questions in this regard.

Kushner is also expected to play an important role in this week’s meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Florida.

Trump has indicated that the meeting would revolve around trade and the threat from North Korea.

Sun Apr 2, 2017 7:51PM
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 27, 2017.  (Photo by AFP)
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley addresses the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, DC, on March 27, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The administration of US President Donald Trump will continue “beating up on Russia” in the wake of Moscow’s alleged interference in the 2016 presidential vote.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley appeared in television interviews broadcast Sunday to say that the commander in chief is OK with pressuring Russia over its alleged role in the election, which yielded President Trump.

“He is not stopping me from beating up on Russia,” she stated, further explaining that, “He’s not stopping me from talking about the pressure that China needs to be putting on North Korea. He’s not stopping me on how we’re working together to defeat ISIL (Daesh).”

In a declassified report released in January, the intelligence community concluded that Russia helped with the New York billionaire’s campaign effort ahead of winning the White House, an allegation dismissed both by Moscow and Trump.

The former South Carolina governor acknowledged Russia’s alleged role in the election, asserting that “We don’t want any country involved in our elections ever.”

“Well, certainly, I think Russia was involved in the election,” said the 45-year-old. “There’s no question about that. And I think when they finish with all of this process, yes, they need to address Russia, they need to act, and they need to make sure they’re loud about it.”

Haley, Trump on the same page

The UN envoy’s tone did not exactly echo Trump’s previous words on Russia.

“I think we are both saying the same thing,” she said. “It’s just being reported differently.”

Trump, whose proclivity for Russia has been a source of pressure on his administration, has also been attempting to appear tough in dealing with Moscow.

“There’s no love or anything going on with Russia right now. We are getting our strength back. We are getting our voice back, and we are starting to lead again.”

Trump’s tweets nothing but ‘chatter’

Haley also undermined Trump’s controversial tweets, including a recent one describing a scheduled meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping as “a very difficult one in that we can no longer have massive trade deficits.”

“I think the foreign leaders are picking up the phone and calling him if they have an issue,” Haley said. “And that’s what they’re doing with me. If they have an issue, they’re calling me. They’re not sitting there texting me and saying, ‘What was this tweet about?’”

The Republican further noted that Trump’s tweet amount to nothing but “chatter.”

“You’d have to ask everybody else,” Haley said. “I don’t hear about them. I don’t talk about them. I don’t have them interfere in everything that I’m doing. And so, to me, it’s chatter I don’t focus on. But, you know, you can talk to President Xi and ask him if he’s reading those tweets. I don’t know.”

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