Lebanon’s foreign minister has come under fire for seemingly moderate remarks on Israel.
On Thursday, politicians in the country criticized Gebran Bassil for stating, in a television interview, “we are not against Israel living in security,” Reuters reported. The clip, which aired on Tuesday, has been shared widely by Lebanese social media users.
One former government minister urged Bassil to step down, and a lawmaker in parliament criticized him, according to Reuters.
Bassil’s office said his words had been twisted by the television channel’s editors, Reuters reported.
In a series of tweets issued on his personal account, Bassil wrote that Lebanon’s position on the Arab-Israel conflict had not changed and it supported a comprehensive peace agreement in accordance with United Nation resolutions related to the conflict, from Resolution 181 (1947’s Partition Plan for Palestine) to Resolution 1701 (intended to resolve the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict).
He also tweeted a statement from his office saying that over the years he had rejected Israel’s existence, and accused it of raping Palestine, Lebanon and Arab rights.
Israel and Lebanon are enemy states, and Lebanese citizens are forbidden by law from visiting its neighbor to the south. Israel has fought wars against Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based terror group and political party that has members sitting in Lebanon’s parliament and cabinet.
In August, the winner of a beauty contest for women of Lebanese ancestry was stripped of her title after it was discovered she had traveled to Israel.