Lebanese President hints at possibility of relationship with Israel

Israel has fought two wars in Lebanon in recent decades, and Hezbollah is deeply embedded in the Lebanese government.

The Lebanese President, Michel Aoun, hinted at the possibility of peace talks with Israel, days after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel agreed to normalize relations.

Speaking with France’s BFM TV, Aoun declined to rule out negotiations categorically, stating “that depends” when asked about ending the conflict with Lebanon’s longtime enemy.

“We have problems with Israel, and we have to solve them first,” he told the French television network without specifying.

Israel has fought two wars in Lebanon in recent decades, and Hezbollah is deeply embedded in the Lebanese government.

Aoun’s comments came after the UAE and Israel announced an agreement to establish full diplomatic relations, marking the third such deal Israel has struck with an Arab state after Jordan and Egypt.

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Asked about that rapprochement, Aoun replied that the UAE was an “independent country” that could do as it wished. This is a stance contrasting to the Palestinians’ outrage over the deal, and a departure from the 2002 Arab League peace initiative, which ties normalization with Israel to a full withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.

Fuel tanks burn at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Lebanon, during the 2006 Israeli-Lebanese War. (Adnan Hajj/Reuters)

Aoun’s comments came two weeks after a massive explosion rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, sparking anti-government protests and a wave of conspiracy theories pointing the blame at Israel.

Both Israel and Hezbollah denied reports that Israel was involved in August The 4th blast, which leveled a large part of the city’s harbor. It killed 170 people, injured thousands, and left hundreds of thousands temporarily homeless.

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