Influential Israeli Politician Urges Army Occupation Of Southern Lebanon For 50 Years

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Jan 03, 2024 - 04:20 AM

Israel's influential former defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who has long been known as an outspoken hawk aligned with the hardline political opposition, is calling for the Israeli army to occupy southern Lebanon with a goal toward creating a permanent security buffer zone.

Lieberman is the founder and chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu, a right-wing secular nationalist party which is most influential among Israel’s million-plus Russian-speaking immigrant community. Lieberman said in the fresh, controversial comments that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) must "close off" a broad swath of southern Lebanon in order to force Hezbollah to relocate north of the Litani river.

Avigdor Lieberman, via EFE

He said this must be done even if it means the IDF must occupy Lebanon for 50 years. Hezbollah must "pay in territory" he said, referencing the now daily rocket and drone attacks on northern Israeli communities which forced some 80,000 residents to flee their homes.

"It can’t be that there are entire towns where close to half of the buildings were simply destroyed," he said during Yisrael Beytenu party’s weekly meeting.

"We will not annex anything, and we will not build settlements, but we will release the territory only when there is a government in Beirut that knows how to exercise its sovereignty."

“Everything between the Litani and Israel must be under the control of the IDF," he emphasized. "If Lebanon won’t pay in territory we haven’t done anything."

Israeli media then cited his words further as follows:

[This buffer zone] could be there "until a government is established in Beirut that is able to exercise its sovereignty over the entire territory" which could take up to 50 years.

But if Israeli forces were to initiate such a plan, it would surely open up a full war with Iran-backed Hezbollah, which in the 2006 Lebanese war was proved a formidable guerilla force against the IDF. 

On Tuesday, Israel conducted a strike against a Hamas office in a Beirut suburb, killing Hamas’s deputy leader abroad Saleh al-Arouri, which marks a major escalation. This has sparked new fears of Hezbollah heightening its attacks, also with the possibility of deepened Iranian involvement against Israel. The Houthis in Yemen, which have been attacking ships in the Red Sea, also warn this act "won't go unpunished".