Adel Al-Jubeir
Adel Al-JubeirReuters

Lebanon has been “hijacked” by Hezbollah and the country can only flourish if the Iranian-backed group disarms, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday, according to Reuters.

“Lebanon will only survive or prosper if you disarm Hezbollah,” Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir was quoted as having told a conference in Italy.

“As long as you have an armed militia, you will not have peace in Lebanon,” he stressed.

Saudi Arabia and Hezbollah’s patron, Iran, are regional rivals and the tensions between them have increased in recent weeks over the issue of Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is backed by Saudi Arabia, announced his resignation in a statement from Riyadh last month, saying he was stepping down because he feared for his life while also accusing Iran and Hezbollah of destabilizing Lebanon.

Hariri then stayed in Saudi Arabia for several days before returning to Lebanon after making several stops along the way. He has since put his decision to resign on hold and has indicated he may withdraw it altogether if talks with Hezbollah yield fruit.

This is not the first time that al-Jubeir has blasted Hezbollah. Several weeks ago he accused the group of holding Lebanon hostage and demanding that it disarm.

"We see Hezbollah hijacking the Lebanese banking system to launder money, we see Hezbollah hijacking Lebanese ports in order to smuggle drugs, we see Hezbollah engaging in terrorist activities and interfering in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen," he charged.

"Unless Hezbollah disarms and becomes a (solely) political party, Lebanon will be held hostage by Hezbollah and by extension Iran. This is not acceptable to us and is not acceptable to the Lebanese," stressed the Saudi foreign minister.

Hezbollah, which last year was declared a terrorist organization by Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, claims that Saudi Arabia pressured Hariri to resign.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)