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WikiLeaks: Khazen ‘recommended severance’ of FPM’s relation with Hezbollah

Free Patriotic Movement MP Farid al-Khazen told former US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman on July 18, 2006 that he had recommended a complete severance of FPM's relationship with Hezbollah, according to a US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks.

Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, on July 12, 2006 in a cross-border raid, sparking a 34-day offensive by Israel that killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

“Khazen argued that any ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah had to be accompanied by a ‘roadmap’ or it would be worthless –  and inevitably lead to instability and the eventual resumption of hostilities,” the cable said.

The cable added that Khazen “described four elements as essential: the immediate exchange of Israeli and Lebanese prisoners , the immediate deployment of the Lebanese army to the Blue Line, the immediate disarmament of Hezbollah’s heavy weaponry (particularly rockets) and the ‘return’ of the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon.”

According to the cable, Khazen said that unless the Shebaa Farms territory is returned and the "two or three" Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails are handed over, Hezbollah “would always be able to play the resistance card,” adding that “without this card, Hezbollah’s leadership would be compelled to become a normal political organization – or openly declare its identity as a Syrian/Iranian proxy.”

“The most unexpected comment from this respected parliamentarian was his view that Hezbollah’s military capability must be ‘reduced’ to a level where it could declare to its Iranian paymasters that it had done all it could do and must now accept the roadmap's provisions,” the cable added.

FPM leader MP Michel Aoun formed an alliance with the Shia group Hezbollah in February 2006 and became March 14’s fierce political rival after boycotting former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s government that year.

To read the full cable, click here.

-NOW Lebanon