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Hamas and Hezbollah leaders meet in Lebanon

Hassan Nasrallah and Ismail Haniyeh discussed Israel-UAE normalisation deal, Hezbollah-backed news outlet reports
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, right, with Hamas' political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh at an undisclosed location, in a handout picture released by the Hezbollah press office on 6 September 2020 (AFP)

Leaders of Lebanon's Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas movement met on Sunday in Lebanon to discuss diplomatic normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, a TV report said on Sunday.

They stressed the "stability" of the "axis of resistance" against Israel, the Hezbollah-run Al-Manar TV channel reported, without saying where or when the meeting took place.

Hassan Nasrallah, head of the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement, was pictured meeting Ismail Haniyeh, who heads the political bureau of Hamas, the de facto ruling party in the besieged Gaza Strip.

They discussed "political and military developments in Palestine, Lebanon and the region" and "the dangers to the Palestinian cause", including "Arab plans for normalisation" with Israel, Al-Manar said.

The meeting followed a 13 August announcement that Israel and the United Arab Emirates had agreed to normalise ties.

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While a US-backed diplomatic drive aims to boost a regional alliance against Iran, Palestinians have condemned it as a "stab in the back" as they remain under Israeli occupation with no end in sight.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that his country was now in talks with other Arab and Muslim leaders about normalising relations, following the deal with the UAE, which is only the third Arab country to have diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv, decades after Egypt and Jordan.

Haniyeh had been in Lebanon since Wednesday, on his first visit to the country in nearly 30 years, for direct and video-conference talks with other Palestinian groups that oppose Israel's diplomatic initiative.

Lebanese media reported that Haniyeh had been greeted by a large crowd in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in southern Lebanon on Sunday.

There, Haniyeh is reported to have addressed the crowd and said, "Not long ago, our rockets only reached (targets) metres from Gaza's borders. Today, the resistance in Gaza possesses rockets that can reach Tel Aviv and beyond Tel Aviv".

As for normalisation between Israel and Arab countries, Haniyeh said that "does not represent the people, neither their conscience, nor their history nor their heritage".

Israel's military has in recent weeks targeted Hamas in the Gaza Strip and what it claims to have been Hezbollah gunmen along its northern border with Lebanon.

Nasrallah has been living in a secret location for years and makes very few public appearances. He said in 2014 that he often changed his place of residence.

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