The Lebanese political party, Hezbollah, declared victory in the general elections in the country, as the Shia majority movement and its allies achieved majority in Parliament. According to reports, the party, along with the Amal movement, managed to win 43 seats pushing aside the Saudi Arabia and Western-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Hariri’s Future Movement saw its parliamentary share diminish by about one-third – from 33 seats to 21 seats.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, declaring “mission accomplished”, said his party’s gains would give “protection” to the group.
Lebanon’s political system is based on a framework of confessionalism with a power-sharing arrangement between the country’s diverse sects, with a set number of the 128 parliament seats reserved for each community. The Taif Accord sihe gned after the end of the 15-year old civil war in Lebanon mandated that Lebanon’s president would be a Maronite Christian, its prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Parliament’s speaker a Shia Muslim.
Hariri, who controls the largest Sunni faction, is the son of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005 in a car bomb attack. Backed by Riyadh, Hariri holds Saudi citizenship and his connection with the kingdom as well as his famiy’s political and business interest dates back to 1978.
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Last year, in November, the country witnessed political drama with Hariri announcing his resignation in Riyadh, allegedly at the behest of a plan scripted by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The event led to increased tensions in the region, as Saudi Arabia and Israel warned of the use of force and blamed Hezbollah and Iran for the creating instability.
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As the news of the Hezbollah victory poured in, Israel responded harshly. Israel accuses Iran of supporting and arming Hezbollah. Last year, Tel Aviv accused Iran of establishing a precision missile production facility in Lebanon.
Tel Aviv has escalated the situation in Lebanon by stating that “Hezbollah equals Lebanon”.
Israeli education minister Naftali Bennett wrote on Twitter: “The State of Israel will not differentiate between the sovereign State of Lebanon and Hezbollah, and will view Lebanon as responsible for any action from within its territory.”
Israel has also claimed that Iran is preparing for a missile attack against Israeli territory, as a response to the killing of Iranians in airstrikes launched against Syrian air bases by Israeli jets in recent days.