Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah denounced Israel on Sunday as a “permanent enemy” of the Arabs, and lashed out at Saudi Arabia amid a continuing spat between his Shiite, pro-Iran organization and the Sunni-dominated Gulf kingdom.
“O Zionists, if any Arab regime supports you, it will fall with you,” he said, according to a translation of his words by the Hezbollah media outlet al-Manar.
“Israel’s presence will never become normal and it can’t be an ally to Arabs while it is terror itself,” he was quoted as saying. “No Arab regime will be able to normalize ties with Israel, neither the House of Saud nor anyone.”
In the televised broadcast, intended to mark one week since the funeral of one of the group’s top commanders, Ali Fayyad, near the Syrian battleground city of Aleppo, Nasrallah defended his Shiite group against widespread criticism in Lebanon and the Arab world over its allegiance to Iran’s ruling ayatollahs and its fighting on behalf of Assad in the Syrian civil war.
He defended Hezbollah as a defender of Lebanon against Israel, criticizing Sunni Arab regimes for purportedly failing to protect the country.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states blacklisted Hezbollah as a terror group last week for “terrorist acts and incitement in Syria, Yemen and in Iraq,” in the process drawing criticism from the organization and its patron Iran, who accused the Saudis of backing “terrorists” in Syria and elsewhere.
Nasrallah thanked those who supported Hezbollah in the dispute, saying, “The Arab popular reaction” to the Saudi measure “challenged the political and takfiri [apostate] media and finance in the region,” and “sent a clear message to Israel.
“What protects this country is its army, people and resistance, and those who expect that the Arab League or Arab consensus can prevent Israel from attacking Lebanon are delusional,” he said, in comments seen as a response by Sunnis and others in Lebanon who regularly criticize the Shiite group for dragging their country into Iran’s proxy wars in Syria and with Israel.
“The real defenders of Lebanese interests,” said Nasrallah, were those battling the Sunni jihadists of Islamic State and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria.
Citing the jihadist assault in Yemen over the weekend in which four nuns and 12 others were massacred at a care facility, Nasrallah asked, “What would have happened in Lebanon if the terrorists had achieved victory in Syria?”