BEIRUT — Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah terror group on Wednesday blamed Gulf countries for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election pledge to extend Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley.
The Shi’ite organization, which earlier this month exchanged cross-border fire with the Israeli army, argued that steps towards closer Gulf-Israeli ties were emboldening Netanyahu against the Palestinians.
“Measures toward normalization and Gulf attempts to foster alliances with the enemy have created an opportunity to chip away at more Arab lands,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
Netanyahu, who is campaigning for September 17 elections, said on Tuesday that if re-elected, he would annex the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea area in the West Bank.
Gulf countries condemned Netanyahu’s pledge, but Hezbollah argued that recent contacts between Israel and some of the US-allied, oil-rich monarchies had encouraged Netanyahu to take a more aggressive stance.
Hezbollah accused Gulf countries — most of them rivals of its own patron Iran — of “giving (Israel) a right of aggression against the Arab people of Lebanon and Palestine.”
Egged on by Washington, several Gulf countries have recently taken steps toward a thaw in relations with Israel, which shares their hostility to Iran.