Hezbollah warns Lebanon top clergy against Jerusalem visit

Rai insists the visit to the Holy Land will have no politicial significance. (File photo: Reuters)

A Hezbollah official warned Friday that a visit to Jerusalem by the head of Lebanon’s Maronite Church to greet Catholic Pope Francis would have negative consequences.

The warning came during a meeting between Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, the head of Hezbollah’s political council, and Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai at Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church.

"We presented our perspective and point of view and laid out what we see as the negative repercussions of this visit," Sayyed said in comments carried by Lebanon’s National News Agency, adding that Hezbollah hoped “this perspective is taken into account.”

This is the latest warning from within Lebanon against the trip, which would be the first by a Lebanese Maronite Patriarch to Jerusalem since it came under full Israeli control after the 1967 Israel-Arab war.

As-Safir, a leading daily close to Hezbollah, ran a critical piece on the visit on May 3, saying it would represent a “historic sin.” Pro-Hezbollah Al-Akhbar daily also said a group of Lebanese politicians would try to discourage Rai "from visiting Jerusalem as long as it is under Israeli occupation.”

Rai has said that the visit to the Holy Land is in order to welcome Pope Francis during his brief May 24-26 visit. He insists that the trip will have no political significance.

Lebanon and Israel are technically in a state of war. Lebanese citizens are barred from travelling to Israel but Maronite clergy can visit to minister there.



Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:43 - GMT 06:43