Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said late on Friday his movement would never recognize Israel, rejecting a U.S. precondition for dialogue with the group which the U.S. considers a terrorist organization.
"To those who impose conditions on us, we say: We will never recognize Israel," he said in a speech during celebrations to recognize the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.
The White House said on Tuesday that both Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah must renounce violence and recognize Israel before they can expect even low-level U.S. engagement.
"We reject the American conditions ... Today, tomorrow and after 1,000 years and even until the end of time, as long as Hezbollah exists, it will never recognize Israel," Nasrallah said.
He added that Hezbollah will impose its own preconditions for dialogue with the United States if the organization ever decides to open a diplomatic front with Washington.
Nasrallah pointed out that the U.S. diplomatic overtures to Syria and Iran were due to the failure of Washington’s regional plans in the Middle East.
A senior U.S. official said on Thursday he was unhappy with a British decision to open low-level contact with Hezbollah and suggested London only indirectly informed the new U.S. administration ahead of time.
Arab unity over Iran
Nasrallah also saluted recent moves to smooth over Arab differences, with Saudi Arabia and Egypt seeking to improve ties with Syria, which has supported Hezbollah.
Hezbollah’s chief called on the Arab states to "extend a hand" to Iran and Turkey, which he said support the Arab interests. He added that "all Arab reconciliation reinforces us."
At an Arab foreign ministers’ summit last week, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal called on joint Arab stance to confront the “Iranian challenge.” The Saudi minister pointed out that the Arab unity depends on a shared Arab vision over the Gulf security and the Iranian nuclear program.
Last Thursday the Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit accused Iran of trying to impose its hegemony on the Middle East. Abul-Gheit told the Egyptian television that Iran was “manipulating Arab states and entities to increase its influence in the region in order to achieve some goals, including easing the pressure on its nuclear program and to be a key partner, sitting with Arabs at one table to make deals on Arab issues," the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram reported March 12.