Hezbollah chief urges 'resistance' over US Golan move


Beirut (AFP)

The head of Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah on Tuesday called for "resistance" a day after the United States recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

US President Donald Trump on Monday officially recognised Israeli sovereignty over the strategic border area, seized from Syria in 1967 and then annexed in 1981 in a move not recognised by the international community.

Hezbollah is a key backer of the regime in neighbouring Syria, where its fighters have helped Damascus gain ground against rebels and jihadists during the eight-year civil war.

In a televised speech on Tuesday, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said the only option left to Syrians to take back their land -- and for Palestinians to achieve their "legitimate rights" -- was "resistance, resistance, and resistance".

He described Trump's move as "a crucial turning point in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict".

Trump's decision "deals a knockout punch to what is called the peace process in the region, which is built on (the concept of) land in exchange for peace".

He called on the Arab League, which has suspended Syria's membership over the bloody repression of protests leading to the war, to take action at a summit at the end of the month in Tunis.

The 21-member bloc should "call for the withdrawal of the Arab peace initiative... from the table" of negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he said.

The initiative, born in 2002 in Beirut, called for Israel to withdraw from all land it occupied in 1967, in exchange for normalisation between all Arab states and Israel.

Trump's Golan decision sparked condemnation from the Arab League, as well as several regional states, including Lebanon, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Hezbollah, the only side not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, is credited with expelling Israel from the south of the country in 2000.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a devastating month-long war in 2006, and skirmishes still erupt along a UN-patrolled demarcation line.