Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid warns Hezbollah against 'playing with fire'

Edited By: Vyomica Berry
Jerusalem Updated: Jul 05, 2022, 12:23 PM(IST)

Israel's interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid chairs the first cabinet meeting, days after lawmakers dissolved parliament, in Jerusalem Photograph:( Reuters )

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Hezbollah, led by its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah since 1992, is a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group

Warning Tehran-backed Hezbollah group against "playing with fire", Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he will press French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday for a tougher and time-limited tack on the Iranian nuclear negotiations.

Deeming its caps insufficient, Israel had opposed the Iran nuclear deal which France is trying to revive.

In his first abroad since becoming caretaker premier last week, Lapid will meet Macron and flex his diplomatic muscles as Israelis gear up for a snap election in November.

It comes after the Israeli army shot down three Hezbollah drones launched toward one of its Mediterranean gas rigs.

Hezbollah, led by its Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah since 1992, is a Lebanese Shia Islamist political party and militant group.

France has additional clout in Beirut as it is Lebanon's former colonial administrator and Israel has de facto front with Iran in the Lebanon.

A senior Israeli official told news agency Reuters that "The French are very, very active on the Iranian issue."

"It is important for us to make our case ... Israel opposes a return to the JCPOA (2015 nuclear deal). In the same breath, we do not oppose a deal. We seek a very strong deal."

Experts believe that Western capitals are worried Israel might take preemptive military action against its arch-enemy if it deems diplomacy a dead end.

Calling for "coordinated pressure" on Iran and offering help on "drafting an appropriate framework" for that, the senior Israeli official said "We want an end to the unending talks."

Lapid would share with Macron "new material explaining how Hezbollah is endangering Lebanon," according to the official.

Tapping into European Union countries' quest to replace Russia as an energy supplier since it invaded Ukraine, the Karish rig near Lebanon's coast will produce gas for the European Union, the official added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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