Nasrallah: Netanyahu lying and inciting against Lebanese gov't

Hezbollah leader responds to Netanyahu's comments that Hezbollah controls the government of Lebanon.

Elad Benari ,

Hassan Nasrallah
Hassan Nasrallah

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah on Monday evening responded to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who told a delegation of UN ambassadors on Sunday that Hezbollah controls the government of Lebanon, which means Iran controls the government of Lebanon.

"The Israeli enemy, and especially Binyamin Netanyahu, who claim that the government that was established is a Hezbollah government are lying and inciting against a legitimate government in Lebanon," said Nasrallah in a televised speech, according to Israel Hayom.

Nasrallah's speech marked 40 years since the outbreak of the Islamic revolution in Iran, a defining event for many Shiite Muslims in the Middle East. In his remarks, the Hezbollah leader referred to the revolution and said, "The revolution, led by Imam Khomeini, changed the historic course of the Middle East and gave new hope to the future and the resistance of the Palestinians."

Nasrallah expressed his commitment to the Iranian revolution, saying, "We consider ourselves to be the first to respond to Khomeini's call and to respect the values ​​of the Iranian revolution. I call on all Lebanese citizens, and especially the residents of southern Beirut, to celebrate the anniversary of the revolution."

Regarding the establishment of the new Lebanese government, Nasrallah said that all parties should stop spreading ethnic hatred and that members of the government should refrain from expressing themselves disproportionately on social networks.

Nasrallah’s comments came a day after his deputy, Naim Qassem, also rejected Netanyahu’s comments about the new Lebanese government.

In a television interview, Qassem claimed that Hezbollah “only makes up 10%” of the new government.

The new Lebanese government, headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was announced last Thursday, nearly nine months after elections were held in the country.

Hezbollah and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament in the election which took place in May of 2018. Hariri, the incumbent Prime Minister, was tasked with forming the next coalition despite his party’s significant losses in the vote.

The 30-seat government sees an increase in the number of ministries affiliated with Hezbollah.

For the first time, the group now holds the Ministry of Health, which has one of the country's largest budgets. Hariri had warned against Hezbollah holding the Health Ministry fearing it would be hit with sanctions.

Hezbollah is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the West and even by some Arab countries, but some of those designations, most notably in the EU and in Britain, make a distinction between Hezbollah’s “military wing” and its political arm.

A State Department official in December expressed concern over Hezbollah’s rising clout in Lebanon and said the United States hopes Lebanon's next government will work with it on areas of mutual interest.