* Abbas discusses Palestinian refugee issue in Lebanon
* Four bodies found in Nahr al-Bared refugee camp
JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned Lebanon’s government that it would be held responsible for any attacks after granting Hezbollah the right to use its arms against Israel.
“Hezbollah is today the real Lebanese army and it has replaced Lebanon’s army as the dominant force by arming and organising itself as a full-fledged military,” he told parliament’s powerful foreign affairs and defence committee. “The Lebanese government and Hezbollah are becoming entwined and they will bear responsibility for any attack against Israel,” a senior official present at the meeting quoted Netanyahu as saying. Lebanon’s cabinet last week adopted a policy statement granting Hezbollah the right to use its arms against Israel, after forming a unity government which includes the militia. The hawkish premier also said that the UN Security Council resolution, which ended a devastating 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, had proven to be failure. “Resolution 1701 does not withstand the test of reality. Resolution 1701 has collapsed,” he said.
Refugees: Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, separately, said on Monday the legal status of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon would remain “unchanged”, in an apparent attempt to quell Lebanese fears of permanent resettlement.
“The status of Palestinian refugees will remain unchanged until a comprehensive, final solution is reached” with Israel, Abbas said after meeting Lebanese President Michel Sleiman on a day-long visit to Beirut. “We believe there is no alternative to peace but peace itself, and we will continue our political fight for peace,” he said in a news conference. His trip comes amid renewed efforts to revive the Middle East peace process and concern among Lebanon’s leadership that any deal on the issue of Palestinian refugees would be at the expense of the Lebanese and could threaten the country’s confessional balance. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees lists almost 400,000 Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
Bodies: Four bodies were found in a Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon on Monday that was the scene of deadly clashes between the army and an Al Qaeda-inspired militia two years ago, a Lebanon army official said. “Four bodies were found in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp as we were clearing rubble and conducting demining operations,” an army spokesman told AFP on condition of anonymity. “We are still looking into whether they died during the 2007 battles there or were buried at another time,” he added. afp