A former Lebanese minister has said Israel does not aspire to annex Lebanese territory and that the Jewish state wants peace with Lebanon and the wider Arab world.
”I truly believe, and please trust that I am being honest, that Israel is not plotting to occupy Lebanon, or to expand its own territory by annexing parts of Lebanon,” Sejaan Azzi, a former labor minister, said in an interview with Lebanese news outlet NBN, translated Wednesday by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI.)
When asked why Israel has invaded Lebanon in 1982 if it really had no territorial aspirations there, Azzi pointed to the Palestinians and their multiple conflicts with the Jewish state.
”The Palestinians were occupying the country when Israel invaded it!”
Israel invaded Lebanon in June 1982 following repeated attacks by the Palestinian Liberation Organization and other Palestinian groups emanating from the territory, though the operation quickly ballooned into wider objectives that saw Israeli forces reach Beirut. The Jewish state eventually held onto the so-called South Lebanon Security Belt, consisting of some 10 percent of Lebanese land, until its withdrawal in 2000.
Azzi stated that if the Lebanese army had been deployed in the south of the country, if the Lebanese government had controlled the Palestinian refugee camps in its territory, and if the Palestinians had not ”created another state and army inside of Lebanon—Israel would not have invaded Lebanon.”
As proof that Israel has no aspirations for Lebanese territory, Azzi pointed to the Jewish state’s multiple wars with neighboring countries and its territorial gains from Jordan, Egypt, and Syria. Israel, Azzi said, ”never annexed any Lebanese land.”
When asked if Israel wanted to make peace with Lebanon, Aziz answered in the affirmative and pointed to the August 13 announcement of the UAE-Israel peace deal in which the countries agreed to establish full diplomatic relations.
”If [Israel] is going to make peace with the UAE, which is far away from it, a four-hour flight away, don’t you think it wants to make peace with Lebanon and Syria?”
Azzi added that Israel ”would like to make peace with all the Arab countries, including Lebanon.”
In an apparent reference to the current state of war between Lebanon and Israel and the recent tensions between IDF forces and the Hezbollah terror group, Azzi stated that ”Even if Hezbollah wants to… we cannot live in a constant state of war.”