Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday he disagreed with the prime minister’s agreement to fund Lebanon’s share of the cost of a U.N.-backed court investigating the killing of statesman Rafik al-Hariri, but that his party and its allies would not act against it.
“We stress our firm rejection of the legality and constitutionality of funding the court or cooperating with it in any way, but we will not cause a problem in the country and we will serve the higher national interest,” he said in televised address commemorating the Shiite Muslim of Ashoura, according to Reuters.
The leader of the Shiite Muslim political party and armed group said the premier had “embarrassed himself” by moving to fund the international investigation of a 2005 car bomb that killed Hariri, in which the court has indicted four Hezbollah members.
Nasrallah’s comments came a day after Prime Minister Najib Mikati, after months of political wrangling, announced that he had transferred Lebanon’s share of funding to the U.N.-backed tribunal.
Hezbollah and its allies were fiercely opposed to the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) and in January had toppled the government of Saad Hariri, the slain leader’s son, over the issue.
Mikati last week had threatened to resign should his Hezbollah-dominated government refuse to fund the Netherlands-based STL, which has indicted four Hezbollah operatives for Hariri’s murder.
Nasrallah said he had decided not to stand in Mikati’s way to ensure stability and avoid a government collapse, according to AFP.
He underlined, however, that this did not mean his party endorsed Mikati’s decision or supported the tribunal.
“This American-Israeli tribunal is unconstitutional, illegal and politically motivated,” Nasrallah said.
He added that had Mikati put the funding issue to a vote before the cabinet, his party would have been opposed.
The $32 million (24 million euros) sent to the STL were drawn from the High Relief Council, part of the prime minister's office's budget, and as such did not need cabinet approval.
Since its creation in 2007 by a U.N. Security Council resolution, the STL has been a constant source of political tension in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, the most powerful military and political force in Lebanon, has denounced the court as part of a US-Israeli plot and has vowed that party members accused will never be found or handed over.
The STL is the first international criminal tribunal with jurisdiction over terrorism offences and a mandate to try defendants in absentia if necessary.