Lebanese (l) and Hizbullah flags
Lebanese (l) and Hizbullah flagsIsrael News Photo: (file)

The new Lebanese government formed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri will officially endorse the Hizbullah terror militia and grant legitimacy to its attacks on Israel.

Hariri's national unity cabinet, including two members of Hizbullah, has been attempting to hammer out government guidelines ever since its formation earlier this month. A central sticking point has been Hizbullah's insistence that its independent arsenal of weapons be officially endorsed by the state. According to the Iranian-backed organization, its arms are non-negotiable. Cabinet members of the Phalangist Party and the Lebanese Forces insist that Hizbullah weapons undermine government authority and are in direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. The two parties initially said they would refuse to sign off on any government guidelines that left Hizbullah free to use its arsenal freely.

After nine attempts, according to Lebanese Information Minister Tarik Mitri, a draft agreement was reached on Wednesday that grants the Hizbullah demand. According to Mitri, the government guidelines will recognize the right "of Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate Lebanese territory. The "resistance", in this case, refers directly to Hizbullah.

The language of the controversial clause is identical to the official position of the previous administration of Fouad Siniora. The only difference in Hariri's government is that the representatives of the Phalangists and Lebanese Forces will officially note their reservations on the article in question.

While Hizbullah claims its weapons are strictly to defend Lebanon against "Zionist aggression", in practice the Islamist militia has wantonly attacked the Jewish state of its own initiative. It has also used its men and guns to impose its will on the Lebanese state. In May 2008, following armed clashes in the streets, the government agreed to grant Hizbullah veto power in the national parliament.

Nonetheless, in response to Saad Hariri's inclusion of Hizbullah representatives in his new government, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the Americans now distinguish between the military and political branches of Hizbullah.