Israelis go to the polls in general elections Tuesday with hard-liner
Benjamin Netanyahu expected to become the country's next prime
minister. Israel's neighbor to the north is concerned. Lebanon is
still rebuilding after its war with Israel in 2006, set off when the
Shi'ite militant group, Hezbollah, kidnapped three Israeli soldiers.
Many Lebanese say they hope for better relations, but they doubt that
The Yassin family has seen their home in southern Lebanon destroyed three times in past conflicts with Israel.
Mahmoud Yassin says the compensation his family received from the
militant group, Hezbollah, was 100 times better than what the Lebanese
government gave them.
Um Ali Yassin, his daughter-in-law, says
Hezbollah's payments allowed them to rebuild their home in the south of
the country after the latest war.
She says, there was no
obligation from Hezbollah, but they saw that the family was sleeping in
the streets after their home was destroyed and decided to help them.
the United States, the European Union and Israel consider Hezbollah a
terrorist organization, few Lebanese citizens share that view or even
blame the group for causing the hostilities.
The 2006 war
began after Hezbollah fighters attacked an Israeli patrol along the
border, killing two soldiers and seizing three others. Israel responded
with bombing raids in southern Lebanon, Beirut and near the Syrian
border - and a ground invasion. More than 1,000 Lebanese - many
of them young men - died in the violence.
Karim Makdisi, an
assistant professor of international relations at the American
University of Beirut, says the Israeli election will not improve
relations with Lebanon.
"For over the past 20 years there has
been a lot of violence in this region. It doesn't seem to matter if
it's Likud, Kadima or Labor. They have all declared war, they all had
their foreign adventures in Lebanon and other parts. So it doesn't seem
to me much of a difference," said Makdisi.
That sentiment is echoed on the streets of Beirut.
"They are always a threat to us, and they are always looking at us from a threatening eye," said this women.
personally believe that it is in the interest of Israel to see, to have
a destabilized Lebanon continuously, so irrespective of who comes into
government," said this man.
But Soheil El-Natour, a Palestinian
refugee from 1948, is hopeful. He works as a legal advisor for a
Lebanese charity in a refugee camp. He says hope lies with the new
"If they, I mean the Americans, change,
to be at least moderate, not against Israel but at least moderate with
the rights, human rights, national rights of every part of the Middle
East. We can find a way," he said.
Back in southern Lebanon, the Yassins say peace is what they want most of all. Eighteen-year-old Ali is hoping for it.
"There will be peace in Lebanon one day," he says.
many Lebanese believe that achieving peace will be a huge challenge -
for Israel and Lebanon and the new U.S. administration.