BEIRUT — Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on Friday said that if a nuclear deal was reached between the United States and Iran, it would not affect the indirect maritime border negotiations between Lebanon and Israel.
Here’s what we know:
• In a speech, which was broadcast at the construction site of Baalbeck’s Jalta tourism landmark, Hezbollah’s chief said amid ongoing talks of a possible agreement over a nuclear deal between the US and Iran, that the nuclear deal is important whether it is reached or not. However, he added, “some are assuming that if a [nuclear] deal was reached with Iran, Hezbollah would ignore the maritime border negotiations. The maritime border negotiations and the borders demanded by the Lebanese government are not related to the nuclear deal, whether it is signed or not.”
• The Hezbollah chief added that “some are also assuming that if the [nuclear deal] agreement was not signed, Hezbollah would escalate things. If the [Lebanese] government gets what it is demanding, we are going towards a stage of calm.” “The eyes should be on the American mediator who is wasting time,” Nasrallah also said.
• Regarding the decision of raising the custom taxes to LL20,000 against the dollar, which the government is believed to have made through a leaked letter from Prime Minister Najib Mikati to caretaker Finance Minister Youssef Khalil, although not yet officially, Nasrallah said that “LL20,000 is a huge jump, we understand that LL1,500 (the current rate now) is very little, but from LL1,500 to LL20,000 is too much. Before making any decision there should be a study about the effects of such a decision.” Earlier today, "Forces of Change" MP Ibrahim Mneimneh criticized the decision to raise customs tariffs saying that it “[serves] the interest of a small population at the cost of the general public who earn [a] limited income.”
• Commenting on the stabbing of writer Salman Rushdie, Nasrallah said that “it is a very important subject but I will not comment because we are still getting some details and when we get them we will announce our stance.”
• Nasrallah had said in a speech in 2006 following drawings of the prophet by a newspaper in Denmark, which many considered insulting, that “if Muslims applied the fatwa of [Iran’s former Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khomeini to kill Salman Rushdi, no one would have dared to insult the prophet, not in Denmark, nor Norway nor France.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article said Nasrallah in a 2006 speech commented after the Charlie Hebdo drawings of the prophet. However, he had made comments after drawings of the prophet by a newspaper in Denmark.