Hezbollah makes significant gains in Lebanon elections

Hezbollah’s political power in Lebanon has significantly grown, initial poll results show. 

By: World Israel News Staff

Hezbollah’s political party and its ally, the Amal movement, secured major achievements in Lebanon’s first national elections in nine years, according to initial results reported by local media.

The joint Hezbollah-Amal list, dubbed “Loyalty and Hope,” was especially successful in Sunday’s elections in southern Lebanon, where Hezbollah is concentrated and where it is essentially the sovereign in the area.

Out of the 27 Shiite seats in the Lebanese parliament, the Iran-backed Hezbollah and Amal secured at least 26, according to initial results quoted by the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar TV.

Hezbollah and its allies appear set to take at least 47 seats in Labanon’s 128-seat National Assembly, which would enable them to veto any law it opposes.

Western-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Future Movement party has sustained losses.

Hezbollah and Amal supporters took to the streets in Beirut’s Dahiyeh suburbs, Hezbollah’s stronghold, as well as in southern towns to celebrate their victory after the initial results were announced.

Official results are to be announced by the interior ministry later on Monday.

Hariri will most likely be called upon to form a national unity Cabinet after the vote. The rival sides are expected to recreate the unity government that currently exists, which includes Hezbollah.

The elections were the first since war broke out in neighboring Syria in 2011. The war has divided Lebanon, pitting parties supporting the Iran-sponsored Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria to aid President Bashar Assad against various Sunni rebel factions.

Israeli minister: ‘Hezbollah = Lebanon’

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to back Syrian government forces, a move that has been criticized by many Lebanese, mainly Sunni Muslims and Christians, who see the group as dragging their country into regional conflicts.

Responding to the initial results, Israel’s Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said that the results prove that Hezbollah and Lebanon are one and the same.

“Hezbollah = Lebanon,” Bennett, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, tweeted on Monday.

“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,” he stated.

AP contributed to this report.