LONDON, Feb. 22 (JTA) — Hezbollah will turn its attention to resisting normal relations with Israel if Syria and Lebanon reach a peace settlement with the Jewish state, according to the Shi’ite group’s leader
“We will continue to consider it an illegitimate, alien and cancerous entity which we cannot recognize,” Sheik Hassan Nasrallah told the Egyptian semiofficial daily Al-Ahram.
“We will engage with other parties in resisting normalization with this entity, because that is how Israel will be prevented from becoming a superpower in the region.”
Just as the territorial ambitions of Israel had been thwarted, he said, “Resistance to normalization will foil a Greater Israel in political, economic and cultural terms.”
But, like other Hezbollah officials before him, he preferred to remain ambiguous on the subject of future military action in the event of an Israeli withdrawal from the southern Lebanon security zone.
“That is a question we will not talk about now because keeping the answer secret serves Lebanese interests at the moment.”
While Hezbollah refrained from launching Katyusha attacks on northern Israel in retaliation for the recent bombing of Lebanese infrastructure targets, he continued, “It reserves the right to respond at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way.”
Nasrallah vehemently denied that Hezbollah’s actions are dictated by Syria or that they are affected by the state of Israeli-Syrian negotiations.
“There is friendship, brotherhood, trust, cooperation and exchanges of views with Syria,” he said.
“But it is Hezbollah which takes the decisions it deems fit to serve national interests. It is not true that Hezbollah is a tool of Syria, as Israel projects it.”
He added: “The Syrians did not speak to us either when they went to the negotiations or when they suspended them,” he said. “They said nothing to us about this.”
Nasrallah also insisted that Iran — “a magnificent model of an Islamic regime” — provides political support for Hezbollah but that it does not provide either funds or weapons, which he said his group buys on the open market.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah’s funds come from donations from within and outside Lebanon, while assistance from Iran comes through the semiofficial Martyrs Foundation, which supports the families of Hezbollah fighters.