Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri has declared that Hizbullah's role as an anti-Israel movement has "expired," in light of the decision by the terrorist group to turn its guns on Syria's Sunni opposition, AFP reported.
"The idea... that Lebanon needs the weapons of the resistance (Hizbullah) in order to face the Israeli threat... is an idea that has expired," he said.
In a televised address, Hariri stated that Hizbullah's arms "have been shifted from fighting the Israeli enemy to fighting the Syrian people," and that as a result, the Iranian-backed group no longer had a legitimate claim to bear arms.
Hariri's speech came hours after a rare public address by Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in which he praised "Iran and Syria for all they are doing for Palestine and Jerusalem, and for all they have given to resistance movements (fighting Israel) in Lebanon and Palestine."
Speaking at the rally in honor of "Al Quds Day," Nasrallah declared that the destruction of Israel was in "the the interest of... the entire Arab and Muslim world."
Hizbullah has long been accused by Lebanese Sunni politicians of using its anti-Israel credentials to justify its huge military presence in the country, which is more powerful than the Lebanese national army. Last month, one Lebanese politician branded the Iranian-sponsored group as an "occupying power" for its aggressive and undemocratic interference in the country's political system.
Hariri's comments also came a day after the Lebanese President, Michel Suleiman,, publicly criticized Hizbullah for its role in the Syrian civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 people according to UN estimates.
Not long after his speech, unknown attackers fired rockets at the presidential palace in Baabda.
Saad Hariri's father - Rafiq Hariri, also a former prime minister - was assassinated in a 2005 car-bombing which also killed 22 others, and for which four Hizbullah members are facing trial in absentia.
On Friday, the UN backed tribunal set up to try his killers set a January start date for the trial, AFP reported.
“The pre-trial Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) today issued an order setting 13 January 2014 as a new tentative date for the start of the trial,” the court said in a statement.