Lebanon working to avoid war with Israel: PM Mikati

Source: Daily Sabah

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he is working to ensure that his country does not get involved in the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict amid reports of exchanging cross-border fire between Hezbollah and Israel.

Mikati said he feared an escalation, with the border skirmishes stoking concerns that Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement could open a new front with Israel.

“I am doing my duty to prevent Lebanon from entering the war” raging further south, Mikati told AFP in an interview.

Cash-strapped Lebanon is facing the possibility of war essentially leaderless, as political divisions have left the country without a president for a year, while Mikati has headed a caretaker cabinet for about a year and a half.

“Lebanon is in the eye of the storm,” he added.

Mikati, who is on good terms with Hezbollah, said he has no “clear answer” about whether war loomed ahead, adding that “it depends on regional developments.”

In 2006, Israel and Hezbollah fought a bloody conflict that left more than 1,200 people dead in Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 in Israel, mostly soldiers.

“For now, Hezbollah has managed the situation rationally and wisely, and the rules of the game have remained constrained to certain limits,” Mikati said.

“But at the same time, I feel like I cannot reassure the Lebanese” because the situation is still developing, he added.

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