Hariri's Hezbollah Decision Could Benefit Israel

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Saad Hariri's pledge to include Hezbollah in his future cabinet, regardless of whether "Israel likes it or not" has raised some eyebrows in Jerusalem.

On the surface, such a decision is against the interests of Israel. Jerusalem was hoping that after Hezbollah's recent defeat in the Lebanese elections, the group's political power would dissipate, thus making it a marginalized political force. Eventually, the hope is that such marginalization would increase calls for the disarming of Hezbollah.

However, all is not lost. Inclusion of Hezbollah in Hariri's cabinet will mean that the organization will now be responsible not just for Shiites. In other words, as member of the cabinet it will now have other groups in Lebanon to answer to for its actions. This will make it more difficult for Hezbollah to start a new conflict with Israel, as the backlash will be much more widespread. More importantly, as well as its military arm, it would risk losing its political influence.

It has been suggested that Joe Biden's visit to Lebanon prior to the May elections was an important factor which helped Hariri win. By including Hezbollah in his cabinet, Israel's arch enemy Ayatollah Khamenei would be forgiven for worrying that his influence on Hezbollah may become diluted in the future. Such concern in Tehran, should be met with relief in Jerusalem. After all, taming Hezbollah politically by including it in Hariri's government is the most cost effective option of dissuading the organization from starting a new conflict against Israel. With Iran becoming increasingly isolated, this could provide a boost to Israel's efforts to maintain focus on Iran's nuclear program.

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