Lebanese PM invited to France amid resignation crisis

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic ties but have a shared interest in countering Iran
Ariel Schalit  AP

Macron said the invitation was extended to the premier after discussion between the two and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Aoun added that he will decide the next steps for the Lebanese government once Hariri is back in Lebanon. Aoun's statement was carried by the state-run National News Agency.

Lebanon accused the Saudis of holding Hariri against his will. Hariri earlier in a broadcast cited concerns over meddling by Iran and its Lebanese ally, the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah, in regional affairs.

Hariri announced his resignation while in Saudi Arabia on November 4 in a televised statement in which he railed against Riyadh's bitter foe Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.

He also warned of possible Saudi action against Lebanon, including sanctions and threats to the livelihood of Lebanese workers in the Gulf, unless Hezbollah is reined in.

Because Hariri delivered his speech in Saudi Arabia, Lebanese civilians believe that the Saudi government has forced Hariri to resign against his own will and now have him under house arrest.

Al-Jubeir railed against Hezbollah, calling it a "first-class terrorist organization" that should lay down its arms and respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

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The French president's office said on Wednesday that Hariri and his family had been invited to France for a "few days" but that did not mean he would stay there in exile.

Hezbollah accused the kingdom of seeking to sow chaos in Lebanon.

In parallel, Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's visit to Riyadh and his stances were welcomed by Lebanese political parties, except for Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement, whose member, Mario Aoun, described Rahi's recent positions as "politically inconvenient in the circumstances we are living today". He said that Saudi Arabia had violated the International Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations, given that the prime minister is being held without charge.

Iranian website Amadnews published a report titled "what happened during the meeting between Velayati and Hariri" last week, revealing that the Supreme Leader of Iran advisor Ali Akbar Velayati threatened Hariri's assassination in order to pressure him to comply with Iranian demands regarding Hezbollah.

The Arab League is to hold an extraordinary meeting next Sunday at the request of Saudi Arabia to discuss alleged "violations" committed by Iran in the region.

But Bassil, who is on a European tour seeking support for his country amid the crisis, said that Lebanon also has the option of resorting to global law, without elaborating.