Defense Minister Elias Murr told the official government National News Agency Tuesday, "The role of the army is to cooperate with the UNIFIL in order to implement the resolution 1701, which calls for disarming Hizbullah." Murr then added, “The Lebanese army will defend the country against any Israeli aggression, the resistance [Hizbullah] will do that too; everyone has the right to defend the country."
His statement further entrenches Hizbullah as a dominant force in the government, in which it already holds two portfolios out of 30 and together with pro-Syrian allies has veto power over major Cabinet decisions.
Murr’s declaration goes further than previous statements that Lebanon will allow Hizbullah to remain armed, a foregone conclusion since UNIFIL officers said at the outset of the ceasefire resolution in 2006 that they would not carry out the mandate to disarm the terrorist group.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned last month that Hizbullah in effect is Lebanon’s army, stating that "the Lebanese government and Hizbullah are becoming interwoven in each other.”
The government has a diplomatic excuse for ostensibly defying the U.N. resolution, which forbids arms to all "foreign armies” not authorized by the government. Formally adopting Hizbullah as a defense force effectively neutralizes the resolution at the same time Beirut promises to enforce it.
Lebanon has concentrated on Israel’s obligations in the resolution, particularly the prohibition against surveillance flights that search out Hizbullah activity in southern Lebanon.