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Hezbollah does not represent Lebanon’s government: Information Minister | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Israeli soldiers secure the Israel-Lebanon border, on January 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israeli soldiers secure the Israel-Lebanon border, on January 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Israeli soldiers secure the Israel-Lebanon border, on January 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Lebanon’s government is seeking to “minimize” the repercussions of the latest standoff between Israel and Hezbollah along Lebanon’s southern borders, Lebanese Information Minister Ramzi Jarih told Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday.

Jarih did not rule out a strong Israeli military response along the lines of the 2006 Lebanon War but called for both Israel and Hezbollah to demonstrate “self-restraint” in the wake of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, resulting in the deaths of two Israeli soldiers and a Spanish peacekeeper on Wednesday after Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military convoy in a disputed border zone. The attack was in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike on Hezbollah fighters inside Syria earlier this month, the group said.

The border was calm on Thursday, but Israeli forces remain on high alert following the deadliest escalation of tensions since the brief war between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006.

The state-owned Lebanese National News Agency reported that Israeli warplanes were flying low over border villages on Thursday, while Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon cautioned that Israel’s military is “ready for any development” despite receiving an anti-escalation message from Hezbollah.

Yaalon said that Tel Aviv had received a message from Hezbollah, via the UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, that it did not want further escalation following Wednesday’s retaliatory attack.

Speaking on Thursday, Yaalon said: “I can’t say whether the events are behind us. Until the area completely calms down, the Israel Defense Force will remain prepared and ready.”

Israeli troops also resumed a search for possible Hezbollah tunnels in the border region, local media reported.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, Lebanon’s information minister acknowledged that Hezbollah is part of the Beirut government, but stressed that its latest military action in the border region was not endorsed by the government. He added that Lebanon’s government, which remains without a president following a protracted political standoff, will meet later on Thursday to discuss the issue.

“Yes, Hezbollah is part of the government and so we will listen to the viewpoint of its minister in Thursday’s meeting, while confirming that Hezbollah’s positions do not represent the official position of Lebanon as represented by the prime minister and government,” Jarih said.