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Hezbollah's Nasrallah refutes health rumors, slams Ben-Gvir

Hassan Nasrallah praised internal efforts to choose a Lebanese president, but criticized attempts to link the issue to geopolitical developments.
Supporters of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah attend a televised speech by the group's leader Hassan Nasrallah in the Lebanese capital Beirut's southern suburbs on Jan. 3, 2023 marking the third anniversary of the US killing of top Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Following a cancellation of a televised speech last Friday and rumors about his health, Lebanon Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah appeared on TV this week, denying that he is ill.

“I would like to reassure you that there is no need to worry at all,” Nasrallah said in an address to mark the third anniversary of the assassination of Qassem Soleimani.

Nasrallah, 62, explained his cough during the video as a “trachea allergy.” He dismissed rumors in Israeli and other media that he had a stroke and was severely ill. 

In his speech on Tuesday, he praised the internal efforts to elect a Lebanese president. In parallel, he criticized linking the presidential file to other geopolitical matters, such as the Iranian nuclear deal, stressing that they are not related.

He called for further internal dialogue, emphasizing his readiness to mend ties with the Free Patriotic Movement. The two parties have disagreed over the presidential nomination and are currently unable to come up with a unified position.

Nasrallah stressed that no change to the rules of engagement with Israel would be accepted under its new government. He condemned Israeli national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s visit to Al-Aqsa Mosque, voicing his support for the Palestinian resistance and warning that further developments around the holy site might destabilize the region.

“The new Israeli government is a government of [those who] corrupt, criminals and extremists,” he said. 

Know more: Nasrallah’s call to solve internal matters comes amid reports of a meeting of France, the US, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia in mid-January to discuss the Lebanese file. French President Emmanuel Macron has been leading efforts to choose a Lebanese president and form a government.

So far, internal disagreements among the parties have led to a presidential vacuum, with a caretaker government since October. No single party has the majority in Lebanon, and thus power requires a coalition of several political parties. 

The country has been battling an imminent economic collapse. With no plan to turn the situation around, this political deadlock is further delaying a possible International Monetary Fund deal that might rescue what’s left of the country’s economy.

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