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In Lebanon, Calls for 'Neutrality' Toward Israel Risk Worsening Sectarian Violence

MIN READMay 12, 2022 | 15:00 GMT

A Lebanese army vehicle patrols a road in a southern Lebanese town close to the border with Israel on April 25, 2022.

A Lebanese army vehicle patrols a road in a southern Lebanese town close to the border with Israel on April 25, 2022.

(MAHMOUD ZAYYAT/AFP via Getty Images)

The calls of Lebanese Christian leaders for a softer position on Israel will not result in a normalization of bilateral ties, but they will risk worsening sectarian relations. On April 23, Lebanon's Maronite Cardinal Bechara al-Rai oversaw a multi-religious conference titled ''On Reclaiming Neutrality in Lebanon,'' where al-Rai's representative urged other religious leaders to abandon Lebanon's Iran-backed political actors, such as Hezbollah, and chart a more neutral regional approach. Some activists also pushed for a loosening of anti-Israel normalization laws, either on neutrality grounds or to enable Lebanese to have contact with Israeli Arabs and Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The conference was unique because it pushed to loosen Lebanon's anti-Israel legal regime, which currently punishes Lebanese who try to have business or personal ties to Israel....

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