BEIRUT, Lebanon, May 17 (UPI) -- Israeli insistence on an aggressive stance against Lebanon means Hezbollah will continue as a facet of defense, a leading Lebanese leader said.
Walid Jumblatt in an interview with Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV said supporting the resistance movement in Lebanon was a deterrent against Israel.
Israel has accused Hezbollah of amassing Scud missiles with the help of its patrons in Damascus. Jumblatt countered that Israel was the one issuing threats of war in the region.
"Hence, reinforcing and supporting the resistance (Hezbollah) in the present circumstances is a political and strategic requirement," he was quoted as saying.
Jumblatt, the leader of the Progressive Socialist Party in Lebanon, was a foe of Hezbollah in part because of the alleged role the Shiite movement played in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Both sides, however, made amends following 2009 parliamentary elections.
Jumblatt said a lack of international support in the region and continued bellicose action from Israel left Hezbollah in dominant role.
"In my (March) meeting with Syrian officials, it was agreed that we leave behind a tense chapter in bilateral relations and start anew, seeking to preserve and support the resistance," he said.