Hezbollah, Hamas Leaders Discuss Changing Israel-Arab Ties

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Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, with Hamas’ leader smail Haniyeh at an undisclosed location.

The meeting took place at an undisclosed location and discussed “the dangers to the Palestinian cause” including “Arab plans for normalisation” with Israel.

BEIRUT: In an unprecedented development leaders of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement and the Palestinian Hamas group, both sworn enemies of Israel, have met to discuss diplomatic normalisation between the Jewish state and Arab countries.

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh flew to Beirut from Turkey and met Hassan Nasrallah, secretary general of Hezbollah at an undisclosed location in Beirut, Hezbollah-run Al Manar TV reported on Sunday.

Hassan Nasrallah was pictured meeting Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the political bureau of Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Nasrallah and Haniyeh discussed “political and military developments in Palestine, Lebanon and the region” and “the dangers to the Palestinian cause”, including “Arab plans for normalisation” with Israel, Al-Manar said.

The meeting followed a 13 August announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates had agreed to normalise ties and amid reports that other Arab countries were soon to follow the UAE footsteps.

While a US-backed diplomatic drive aims to boost a regional alliance against Iran, Palestinians have condemned it as a “stab in the back” as they remain under Israeli occupation with no end in sight.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country was now in talks with other Arab and Muslim leaders about normalising relations, following the deal with the UAE, which is only the third Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, decades after Egypt and Jordan.

Saudi Arabia has also granted permission to Israeli airlines to use its airspace indicating softening of stance.

Earlier upon his arrival in Lebanon Haniyeh was given a hero’s welcome at Ain al Helweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp.

“Not long ago, our rockets only reached (targets) metres from Gaza’s borders. Today, the resistance in Gaza possesses rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv,” he said.

As for normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, that “does not represent the people, neither their conscience, nor their history nor their heritage,” Haniyeh said, according to a Hamas statement.

He later met Nasrallah at an undisclosed place. Al Manar reported the meeting without specifying where or when it took place.

Nasrallah has been living in secret after repeated Israeli attempts to assassinate him following devastating 2006 war which drove Israel out of Lebanon.

The Haniyeh-Nasrallah meeting follows an August 13 announcement that the Jewish state and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have agreed to normalise ties. Some

While the US-led diplomatic drive aims to boost a regional alliance against Iran, Palestinians have condemned it as a “stab in the back” by an Arab country as they remain under occupation and don’t have their own state.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is in talks with other Arab and Muslim leaders now about normalising relations, following the deals with UAE and, decades ago, Egypt and Jordan.

Israel’s military has in recent weeks targeted Hamas in the Gaza Strip and what it says have been Hezbollah gunmen along its northern border with Lebanon.

It also regularly launches air strikes in war-torn Syria against what it says are Hezbollah and other pro-Iranian militants fighting on the side of Syrian army.

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