BEIRUT — Hezbollah's parliamentary group refrained Thursday from commenting on a roadside bombing that took place earlier this week in Israel, while Tel Aviv is accusing the Shiite party of being behind this attack.
On Wednesday evening, the Israeli army announced that it had killed a suspect wearing an explosive belt in northern Israel on Monday. It also suspected that he infiltrated Israel from Lebanon and accused Hezbollah of being behind the incident. During a Thursday visit near the Lebanese border, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant promised retaliation.
The statement made by Hezbollah MPs at the end of their weekly meeting made no mention of the matter and mentioned other issues including the vacancy of the Lebanese presidency that has persisted since October 2022 and the resumption of diplomatic relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia sealed in Beijing on March 10.
Commenting on the presidential election, Hezbollah reiterated its support for Zgharta MP Sleiman Frangieh and cited the "need for a president who has national representativeness" and who is "open to the best relations between Lebanon, Arab Muslim countries and those of the East and West."
The party also called for "a president who has promising chances to solve the Syrian refugee crisis, adopts a rescue program (...) and recovers the national economy." The statement also said that "holding the presidential election is the first step to stop the collapse in the country."
These remarks come after the 11 failed parliamentary sessions made since September to elect a new head of state. In all these sessions, MPs from Hezbollah and its ally Amal withdrew after the end of the first round of voting, which caused a loss of a quorum. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has not called for a new election session since the 11th meeting took place on Jan. 12.
Last week, Hezbollah and Amal officially announced their support for ally Sleiman Frangieh, who lacks the support of the two-thirds of MPs required to get elected. Lebanese Forces, Kataeb and other opposition MPs support Zgharta MP Michel Moawad for the presidency.
In its statement, Hezbollah's parliamentary group also expressed hope that the Iranian-Saudi agreement "will reflect positively on the strengthening of fraternal and bilateral ties between the two countries, promote a suitable climate and help resolve regional conflicts."
Tehran and Riyadh announced that they have agreed, in a China-brokered deal, to restore diplomatic relations and reopen their respective embassies within the next two months. Relations between the two regional heavyweights had been severed in 2016 after protesters in Iran attacked Saudi diplomatic missions following the execution of a Shiite cleric in Saudi Arabia. The agreement might have implications for the presidential elections in Lebanon.