Israeli Minister Says 'Lebanon Equals Hezbollah' After Vote

Hezbollah and allies set to win more than half of the seats in Lebanon parliament

Hezbollah and allies set to win more than half of the seats in Lebanon parliament

Commenting on the election results, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah group called them "political and moral victory" for the resistance.

Speaking on the eve of Sunday's election, Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute, a Washington-based research institution, predicted that "just a handful of new lawmakers from civil society" would be elected to the 128-seat parliament. "Hezbollah is ruining our relations with regional countries" — a reference to Hezbollah's military intervention in Yemen, Iraq and Syria that has led several oil-rich Gulf states to join the United States in naming it as a terrorist organization.

An Israeli minister Monday said the election outcome underlines for Israel that the Lebanese state is indistinguishable now from Hezbollah and that Israel shouldn't distinguish between them in any future war.

Commenting on the contest between the Hezbollah-led bloc and the Future Movement party of Saad Hariri, Lebanon's prime minister, in Beirut, a Sunni stronghold, Nasrallah said the results will show that "Beirut is for all the Lebanese" and that it is "a capital of the resistance". He blamed a complex new voting law and gaps in his party's performance.

Final results are expected to be announced on Monday evening, according to local media.

However, while they made gains, Hezbollah and its allies fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to make changes to the country's constitution.

Lebanon's distinctive model of sectarian-driven, power-sharing politics imply rival factions usually find yourself in the identical authorities, as is the case now the place Hezbollah is represented in Hariri's cupboard. "Those who say otherwise are [deceiving] themselves, and we should work with each other to build the country".

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Hariri's Future Movement picked up only 21 seats this election, whereas in the last round of parliamentary elections the bloc picked up 33 seats and held a previous anti-Hezbollah coalition known as the "March 14 Alliance", supported by Saudi Arabia.

The low turnout — between 32 percent and 42 percent in Beirut precincts, according to Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk — betrayed widespread voter apathy for the main political currents governing the country and left open the possibility that outside candidates could win seats in Parliament.

As polls closed, fist fights broke out in the Beirut district of Tareeq Jdideh, a bastion of support for Saad Hariri, Lebanon's Western-backed Sunni prime minister, with both sides throwing stones at each other as security forces rushed to contain the violence.

And the Lebanese Forces party of former warlord Samir Geagea looked set to score significant gains, with a projected 15 seats.

For 60-year-old Sami Kara, who is a strong supporter of Hariri, the Iranian-backed Hezbollah's involvement in the war in Syria is to blame for the militant attacks in Lebanon. Naftali Bennett, the hawkish leader of Jewish Home, insists Israel should consider that "Lebanon equals Hezbollah" from now on.

A better turnout than the 49.2 % introduced in a single day had been anticipated after the lengthy electoral hiatus however the brand new pre-printed ballots used Sunday appeared to confuse some voters. His patron, Saudi Arabia, cut Hariri adrift in November and remained disengaged in the lead-up to the vote.

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