Slamming Golan recognition, Hezbollah chief predicts West Bank is next
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Slamming Golan recognition, Hezbollah chief predicts West Bank is next

Nasrallah calls US recognition of plateau a sign of ‘disrespect’ to the Arab world, says it shows ‘resistance is the only choice for the Syrians to recover the Golan’

Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah via a video link in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Supporters of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group listen to a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah via a video link in a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, March 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist group on Tuesday condemned US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, saying an American shift on the its stance regarding the West Bank could follow.

“After a period of time, we must expect that Trump will come out and say he recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank,” Hassan Nasrallah said in comments broadcast on Hezbollah-affiliated Al-Manar TV.

Trump formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights on Monday in a ceremony at the White House attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after announcing the policy shift last week.

Israel captured the strategic plateau in the 1967 Six Day War and in 1981 applied Israeli law to the territory, a step tantamount to annexation. The move was never recognized by the international community, which considers the area to be occupied.

On Tuesday, a senior Israeli official indicated Trump’s move could open the door to Israel laying claim to other lands it captured in defensive wars, possibly referring to the West Bank, which was captured from Jordan in the same war. The New York Times identified the official as Netanyahu.

A photo from October 18, 2017 shows an Israeli flag fluttering above the wreckage of a tank sitting on a hill in the Golan Heights and overlooking the border with Syria. (Jalaa Marey/AFP)

In his comments, Nasrallah said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 paved the way for his decision on the Golan Heights.

“When the world allowed Trump to usurp Jerusalem and declare it as Israel’s eternal capital, it opened the door to every violation by the Americans and Trump,” Nasrallah, whose Iran-backed group is closely allied with Syria, was quoted saying by the Naharnet news site.

The Golan recognition was a sign of “disrespect” to the Arab world, he added, calling the move a “pivotal event” in the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict.

Nasrallah’s speech Tuesday marked his first public comments on Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights, which has been condemned by Lebanon, Iran and Russia, as well as a number of other Arab and Muslims countries.

Nasrallah said the territory will only be returned to Syria by force, in a call for armed struggle.

“Those who are still hesitant must become convinced that resistance is the only choice for the Syrians to recover the Golan, for the Lebanese to recover the Shebaa Farms and the Kfar Chouba Hills, and for the Palestinians to get their rights,” he said.

Indian UN peacekeepers with their armored personnel carrier, right, stand guard next to a giant poster that shows Hezbollah fighters and the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem with Arabic and Hebrew words reading: ‘We are coming,’ near the barbed wire that separates Lebanon from the Shebaa Farms. April 16, 2014. AP/Hussein Malla)

The Shebaa Farms — known in Hebrew as Mount Dov — is a small patch of land captured by Israel from Syria in 1967. Lebanon maintains that the strip of land is a part of Lebanon, despite it having been under Syrian control from the 1950s until it was captured as part of the Golan Heights.

Kfar Chouba is a nearby village and Hezbollah claims Israel is occupying the surrounding area.

In his remarks, Nasrallah also addressed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s tough rhetoric toward Hezbollah after his visit to Lebanon last week.

“Pompeo mentioned Hezbollah 18 times within minutes during his address,” he said. “It pleases us that the US administration is angry at us to this extent.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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