MADRID (AFP) – The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is “much more explosive” than the Iranian nuclear crisis, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in an interview published Wednesday.
The Middle East conflict “is much more explosive, brimming over with ‘uranium and extremism’, than any other regional issue,” he told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, without elaborating.
Hariri, who is expected for a two-day visit in Madrid on Thursday, said Lebanon was in favour of a “Middle East without nuclear weapons” which he said “includes Israel” and not only Iran.
Israel has never publicly acknowledged it has nuclear weapons and has maintained a policy of deliberate ambiguity since it inaugurated its Dimona nuclear reactor in the Negev desert in 1965.
It shares the US conviction that Iran, its arch-foe, is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons, a claim Tehran denies.
As Hariri prepares to make his second visit to Syria since taking office in November, he also said closer ties with Damascus were key to counter an “Israeli threat”.
Syria was the dominant force in Lebanon for nearly three decades until April 2005 when it pulled out its troops under international pressure, two months after Hariri’s father was killed in a massive bomb blast on the Beirut seafront.
A United Nations commission of inquiry initially said it had found evidence to implicate Syrian and Lebanese intelligence services in the bombing that killed 22 people, but there are no suspects in custody.
Damascus has denied any involvement.
“Stronger ties with Syria mean there is a firmer position toward Israel,” Hariri said.
He also accused the media of under-reporting Israeli “atrocities” toward the Palestinians.
While pedophile priests in the Roman Catholic Church were given “extensive media coverage” amid “attacks against the Vatican”, “atrocities committed by Israel against Palestinians” go practically unreported, said Hariri, who is a Muslim.
For Israel “war is always an option”, he added.