Former Lebanese minister Sejaan Azzi said in a September 3, 2020 interview on NBN TV (Lebanon) that Israel no longer presents an imminent threat to Lebanon, that Israel has never had any intention of occupying or annexing Lebanese land, and that Israel only invaded Lebanon because of the Palestinians. He said that if the Lebanese military had taken control of Lebanon’s southern border and the Palestinian refugee camps, and had it prevented PLO leader Yasser Arafat from creating a state within a state in Lebanon, Israel would never have invaded Lebanon and reached Beirut. Azzi continued, saying that the fact that Israel wants to make peace with the UAE is an indication that it must also want to make peace with Lebanon and Syria, which he pointed out are closer to Israel than the UAE is. He added that even if Hizbullah and other organizations were to continue holding on to their weapons, Lebanon could not live in a state of constant war. For more about Sejaan Azzi, see MEMRI TV Clips No. 8047, No. 7783, and No. 7352.
Sejaan Azzi: "I truly believe – and please trust that I am being honest – that Israel is not plotting to occupy Lebanon, or to expand its own territory by annexing parts of Lebanon..."
Interviewer: "Why not? Throughout its history, Israel has had designs to occupy Lebanon. It even reached Beirut, the capital."
Azzi: "Look, that was an invasion, not an occupation."
Interviewer: "That's worse!"
Azzi: "It entered Lebanon because of the Palestinians, not the Lebanese."
Interviewer: "What do you mean?"
Azzi: "I mean that the Palestinians were occupying this country when Israel invaded it..."
Interviewer: "Does this justify Israel's invasion of Beirut?"
Azzi: "If the Lebanese army had been deployed in the south, if it had control of the Palestinian refugee camps, and if Arafat had not created another state and army inside Lebanon, Israel would not have invaded Lebanon. This is what I'm telling you. Proof of this is that even though there was a war in 1948, Israel did not take any part of Lebanon. Nor did it take any part of Lebanon in the 1956 war..."
Interviewer: "Did it not take any part because it did not want to?"
Azzi: "In the 1967 war, it took parts from all its neighboring countries – from Jordan, from Egypt, from Syria – but not from Lebanon.
"When there will be an agreement between Lebanon and Israel over the borders – maritime borders, land borders, and airspace borders, and the [problem of] the Shebaa Farms will be resolved or postponed, like some people are saying these days..."
Interviewer: "Are you talking about peace?"
Azzi: "No, about resolving the border conflict. Israel no longer presents an imminent threat."
Interviewer: "Does Israel want to make peace with Lebanon? This is the question. Do you think that Israel wants to make peace with Lebanon?"
Azzi: "Yes, it does. If it is going to make peace with the UAE, which is far away from it – a four-hour flight away – don't you think it wants to make peace with Lebanon, Syria, and..."
Interviewer: "So you believe that Israel does not have [territorial] designs regarding Lebanon."
Azzi: "I am not saying that Israel does not have such designs, but it would like to make peace with all the Arab countries, including Lebanon..."
Interviewer: "So why does it violate our airspace?"
Azzi: "But we, the Lebanese, are not in a position to sign a separate peace agreement, and our peace with Israel must come as part of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace deal."
Interviewer: "However, peace with Israel is not on the table for Lebanon today."
Azzi: "Let me tell you this: Even if Hizbullah or others keep hold of their weapons, we cannot live in a constant state of war."