Church leader opposes Lebanese resistance

Dec. 8, 2009 at 1:11 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The armed resistance movement associated with Hezbollah should integrate into the national Lebanese military, a leading Christian cleric said Tuesday.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his unity government in November, moving to form a platform for his new government.

Lebanese lawmakers on Tuesday kicked off three days of negotiations on a national policy statement that includes considerations for an armed resistance to Israeli aggression.

Nasrallah Sfeir, the patriarch of the Maronite Church, rejected an armed resistance that was separate from national military forces, Hezbollah's al-Manar news network reports.

Sfeir said that he feared an armed resistance that would use its weapons on Lebanon's enemies one day, and turn them on their domestic adversaries the next.

He called instead for incorporation into the Lebanese army, saying "the Lebanese army alone should confront the enemy."

Supporters of Hezbollah in the opposition March 8 coalition maintain the right to armed resistance so long as the threat from Israeli persists.

U.S. lawmakers in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton complained an armed Hezbollah, which Washington lists as a terrorist organization, may spark a regional conflict from its base in southern Lebanon.

More than 60 members of the Lebanese Parliament have asked for time on the floor to debate the national policy statement.

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