BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Thursday that Arab states would take a united stance concerning Israeli threats against Lebanon while emphasizing that the trial of Hizbullah’s cell in Cairo was a purely Egyptian domestic issue. “[Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak expressed his sharp rejection of threats against Lebanon while he stressed the need for Arab unity,” Hariri told reporters after talks with the Egyptian president in Cairo.
Israeli Premier Ehud Barak, who also met with Mubarak Wednesday, said Israel “does not have any intentions to attack Syria or Lebanon,” the daily Israeli Yediot Ahronot reported.
The paper said Hariri voiced concerns to Mubarak regarding a possible future Israeli war against Lebanon, “concerns that Barak renounced during talks with Mubarak.”
“Any threat against Lebanese territories, whether in the south, Bekaa, Dahiyeh or any other region in Lebanon is a threat against all of Lebanon and the Lebanese government,” Hariri said, adding that “the protection of any region in Lebanon is the responsibility of the Lebanese government.”
Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hizbullah stronghold, are commonly referred to as Dahiyeh.
The Lebanese prime minister’s visit came just a day after an Egyptian prosecutor demanded the death sentence for 26 alleged militants of Hizbullah who were accused of plotting attacks against ships in the Suez Canal and tourist sites, of spying and other crimes.
The defendants say they never planned the attacks but sought to help the Hamas militants of Gaza to resist Israel.
Regarding inter-Arab relations, Hariri said reconciliations had kicked off and voiced hope that such efforts would continue to unite Arabs against Israeli threats and regional challenges.
Last week, President Bashar Assad paid a visit to Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz to discuss a potential reconciliation between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
His visit to Riyadh was preceded by a visit by King Abdullah to Syria last October after a long period of broken contact between Riyadh and Damascus.
Hariri also announced that Lebanon would participate in the upcoming Arab League summit in Libya.
Tackling the issue of Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon, Hariri said the issue would be discussed during national dialogue talks, adding that an earlier decision had been taken to collect Palestinian weapons outside refugee camps.
“We took a decision not to challenge anyone but we will not accept that any side challenges the state’s authority,” he added.
Asked about the trial of a Hizbullah cell in Egypt, Hariri said that the issue was a purely domestic Egyptian matter.
“The issue is a judicial case handled by the Egyptian judiciary which we respect and thus will not interfere in the matter,” Hariri said.
As for demonstrations near the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut protesting against the building of an iron fence with Gaza, Hariri said Lebanon is a democratic country which guaranteed people’s freedom of speech.
But Hariri said that Lebanese authorities would not allow any aggression against the embassy.
Separately, the Arab League press office voiced on Thursday solidarity with Lebanon against Israeli threats of war, adding that Lebanon had long suffered from Israeli aggression and was still subject to Israeli occupation of parts of its land.
“These threats will be taken seriously and necessary contacts with major parties on the international level would be instigated in response to dangerous and challenging Israeli statements,” the head of the office of the Arab League secretary general, Ambassador Hisham Youssef, said.
“The international community’s silence against Israeli threats sends a negative message to Arab people who lost trust in Israeli intentions and the international community’s desire to contain Israeli practices,” Youssef added.