Hezbollah Leader: 'Resistance' the Only Option

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, spiritual leader of the Lebanese-based Islamist group, Hezbollah, said the only option left to Arabs by the U.S. and Israel is "resistance."

In a speech marking "Liberation Day" -- the May 2000 pullout of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon -- Nasrallah said President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dealt a death blow to the peace process in their recent meetings.

"The Palestinians have only resistance to achieve liberation," Nasrallah told a cheering crowd watching him on giant video screens at the rally. The Hezbollah leader rarely appears in public, almost always broadcasting his speeches via video link from an undisclosed location in Beirut.

"What have Obama and Netanyahu left for the Palestinian people, Palestinian Authority, and Palestinian factions?" he asked.

Nasrallah's speech came one day after Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri urged Palestinians to respond to Netanyahu's stance by adopting an "Arab and Palestinian strategy based on the right of resistance."

Both Hamas and Hezbollah call for "armed resistance" against the "Zionist occupiers." Like their counterparts in the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban, they believe in Islamist rule under sharia law. 

Nasrallah called on the Arab League to withdraw its 2002 Middle East peace initiative.

"The speeches offered a knockout blow to the Arab peace initiative. I call on the Arab League to take that initiative off the table," Nasrallah said. "It's time to withdraw it."

The Saudi-sponsored initiative offered to establish "normal relations" between Israel and Arab League member nations in exchange for a full withdrawal to the 1967 lines. It also granted "Palestinian refugees" either the right of return to their "former homes" or "compensation."

To this day, the only Arab countries with diplomatic relations with Israel are Egypt and Jordan. The interim Egyptian government has alluded to rescinding its peace treaty with Israel.

Nasrallah promised that Hezbollah -- which succeeded in overthrowing the Western-backed government of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri last January -- would retain its military prowess in Lebanon.

"Our rockets will remain and they will stay efficient. No one will be able to take it away," he said.

YNet contributed to this report.

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