Lebanese minister lands in hot water over remarks on Israel’s 'right to safety'

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Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has found himself in hot water after stating that he does not deny Israel’s right to safety.

Bassil made the controversial remarks during an interview with Al-Mayadeen television channel, which is outspoken in its stances in support of Hezbollah and the Assad regime.

“There is no ideological problem with Israel, and we do not reject its existence. Israel has the right to safety. All we care about is for people to recognize one another. We are people who accept the other but the problem is when the other rejects you,” Bassil, who is an ally of Hezbollah, said when asked about normalizing relations with Israel.

Many Lebanese were quick to criticize the minister and said his statements are tantamount to “moral” normalization, noting that it’s really dangerous that he thinks there is “no ideological problem with Israel.”

Some even asked if the next step will go as far as recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Bassil’s press office issued a statement on Thursday to clarify his remarks and said the latter were taken out of context.

“The aim of taking his statements out of context is to distort his stance – the well-known stance that Israel is an aggressive entity that practices terrorism of the state. It is well-known who stands behind this campaign that aims to harm the stance which Bassil expressed at the Arab League,” the statement said.

It added that Bassil’s statements in general and what he said on Al-Mayadeen in particular, in terms of rejecting “the presence of a unilateral Israeli entity that violates the rights of Palestine, Lebanon and Arab countries,” will not be altered by any remarks taken out of context.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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