09/23/2006, 00.00
LEBANON – ISRAEL
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Negative reactions to Nasrallah's words at victory rally

Israelis and Lebanese analysts give their initial reactions to the speech of the Hezbollah leader, who yesterday celebrated the "divine victory" over the state of Israel before thousands of supporters.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – "Ridiculous" in Israel's eyes, "dangerous", according to some Lebanese analysts: this was the feedback to yesterday's speech by the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, during his first public appearance since the start of the war in Lebanon on 12 July. In yesterday's "feast of victory" in Beirut, Nasrallah talked tough: he said no army in the world could disarm his guerrillas and called for the formation of a new government of national unity with wider participation from Hezbollah, which would be capable of protecting the country from Israel.

"No army in the world will be able to make us drop the weapons from our hands," the Shiite militia leader told an enormous crowd of supporters who invaded the southern part of Beirut for a march of "divine victory" yesterday afternoon. Nasrallah, who appeared in public despite threats from Israel to kill him, said his Shiite militias were stronger than they were before the conflict started: "Today the resistance has... more than 20,000 rockets".

"Nasrallah is a big talker," said a spokesman of the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry. "Just three weeks ago, this man was saying he would not have taken the decision to attack Israel if he had known the outcome of the response." The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later described Nasrallah's statements as simply "ridiculous".

Some Lebanese analysts are however concerned about Nasrallah's rhetoric, which they see as "dangerous". "The fact that Hezbollah considers it won this war could lead the political system to slide into a division between communities, which would increase the marginalization of Christians," said Fadi Daou, a professor at the institute of religious sciences at Lebanon's Saint Joseph University. He said there was the "risk of creating a dangerous confrontation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims".

Former President of Lebanon, Amin Gemayel, a critic of Hezbollah, said parts of Nasrallah's speech were "dangerous" because "he is linking giving up Hezbollah's weapons to regime change in Lebanon." He added: "This is very surprising and dangerous, and leads us to ask, what kind of government does (Nasrallah) want for what kind of Lebanon?"

The Hezbollah leader openly criticized Premier Siniora, not least for his closeness to the United States. For his part, Siniora has often rejected the idea of a new government, although he has said he is open to dialogue.

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