BEIRUT, Lebanon, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- The normalization of ties with Israel is against Islamic law, a leading Hezbollah-backed cleric said in a recent religious ruling from Lebanon.
Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah issued a weekend fatwa forbidding Arab states from normalizing relations with Israel, Hezbollah reported on its al-Manar news network.
"The normalization of ties with the Zionist enemy in any form is prohibited by Shariah (Islamic law)," the leading cleric said.
Washington called on Arab states to improve their relationship with Israel, while urging the Israeli government to halt its settlement activity in the West Bank as part of an effort to kick-start the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The cleric's comments come on the heels of a flare-up with Israel along the border with Lebanon. The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon scrambled its peacekeepers to the border last week following reports of rocket attacks striking Israeli targets from south Lebanon.
Border tensions simmered during the summer of 2009. Beirut complained to the United Nations of Israeli violations of its commitments to Lebanon, while Israel warned of Hezbollah activity along the border.
Hezbollah and Israel fought a bruising 34-day conflict in 2006. The U.N.-brokered cease-fire agreement ending that conflict calls on Israel to respect Lebanese sovereignty while demanding Hezbollah abandon its weapons.