In a speech on Thursday evening, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah waded into the decision by US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – he supported a new Palestinian intifada, condemned the American decision and called on Lebanese not to have dealings with Israel.
Nasrallah said that he sought to lay out clearly the dangers of the US decision and what would be the best response. The Hezbollah leader is at the peak of his power in Lebanon, 11 years after the Second Lebanon War.
He compared Trump’s decision to the Balfour Declaration 100 years ago, accusing Israel of never accepting international law and seeking to “Judaize Jerusalem.” Although at the end of his speech he said he supported a new intifada, most of the discussion was focused on practical responses.
Nasrallah sought to emphasize that the US had held back Israel in the past, according to a series of translated tweets by David Daoud, a research analyst on Hezbollah at United Against a Nuclear Iran. The Hezbollah leader accused the US of ending its practice of being a check on Israel’s actions, and of recognizing both east and west Jerusalem as “belonging to Israel.”
Nasrallah wondered whether the next step would be increased Israeli settlement or a threat to Muslim and Christian holy sites, claiming that Israelis might deliberately endanger Al-Aksa Mosque through archeological excavations.
He claimed that this was the “end of the Palestinian cause” in the eyes of Americans and that the US might now accept Israel’s rule over the Golan, the West Bank and Shaba Farms (Mount Dov), a small slice of territory Lebanon claims on Israel’s northern border.
“Trump’s move is an insult to billions of Muslims and Christians the world over,” the Hezbollah leader claimed. “In the last decade we saw opinions that indicated that Israel’s importance to the United States had receded – this has been shown to be nonsense,” Nasrallah said, according to Daoud’s tweets.
Instead of violence outside of the West Bank, Nasrallah initially urged protests and social media responses in the region, including “millions of tweets.” Realizing that his message primarily influences those countries and groups allied with Iran, Nasrallah claimed it was unrealistic to suppose that most countries would break relations with the US over Jerusalem. But he urged states to summon US ambassadors and express their concern.
The only practical response Hezbollah could come up with is to take a “harder line” on those Lebanese who might visit Israel or talk to Israelis, specifically in the entertainment industry. Lebanon was recently rocked by accusations that a comedian named Ziad Itani was spying for Israel.
Nasrallah also called on the region to support the call of Palestinians for a new intifada. “If the Palestinians undertake an intifada, the Arab and Muslim world must support it – morally, financially and by arming it with weapons.”
Toward that end he called for an end to the conflict in Syria and Yemen, where Hezbollah has supported the Syrian regime and the Houthi rebels, respectively. For those who seek to protest, Hezbollah called out its supporters for a rally on Monday in Dahiyeh, the Shi’ite group’s stronghold in Beirut.