Report: Senior Israeli official meets with Lebanon’s foreign minister in Moscow

The unnamed Israeli official told the Lebanese chief diplomat that Israel does not view his country as an enemy but would not hesitate to attack Iranian targets in its territory.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil recently met with a senior Israeli official in Moscow, the Saudi newspaper Elaph reports.

The discussion is said to have centered around the military operations and warehouses of Iran and its proxy Hezbollah near Israel’s border, the overall situation in Syria, and the dispute between Israel and Lebanon over their common maritime border. A source cited by Elaph said that the meeting lasted about two hours.

Israel and Lebanon are in an official state of war. However, Israel’s military operations in that country have been aimed at terror groups: in the case of the First Lebanon War, launched in June 1982, the enemy was the PLO; in the summer of 2006, the Second Lebanon War was a clash with Hezbollah, which was formed after the PLO was forced out of Lebanon.

Though Hezbollah is recognized by many countries, including the U.S., as a terror organization – either in full or just its military wing – it is also a member of the Lebanese government.

Israel has relayed the message over the years that while the Lebanese government is not the target of Israeli reprisals against terror attacks into the Jewish State, Jerusalem does ultimately view Beirut as responsible for attacks carried out from its territory. The inclusion and apparent growing influence of Hezbollah in the Lebanese government have served to reinforce the Israeli position.

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In this spirit, the unnamed Israeli official told the Lebanese foreign minister in their recent meeting to relay a message to President Michel Aoun that Israel does not view his country as an enemy but would not hesitate to attack Iranian targets in its territory, according to the Saudi newspaper report.

In December, Israel announced that it had launched Operation Northern Shield against Hezbollah attack tunnels, which had been dug along the border. Israel received the backing of the United Nations in its position that the Hezbollah tunnel construction ran contrary to the truce that ended the 2006 war.

For his part, Bassil called on Israel to stop threatening the Lebanese government over Hezbollah’s terror activity.

The meeting would signal yet another sign of Russian influence in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu frequently discusses the Syrian situation with President Vladimir Putin. Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has stated that he is willing to hold a summit meeting with Netanyahu, but only if facilitated by Russia.