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Hezbollah warns US on embassy move to Jerusalem
JIBSHEET, Lebanon (Reuters) -- The leader of Lebanon's Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrilla group threatened on Sunday to destroy the U.S. embassy in Israel and kill its diplomats if the mission was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
"You can move your embassy to Jerusalem and send your diplomats there. But honest people can turn your embassy to rubble and send back your diplomats in coffins," Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah told a rally in the village of Jibsheet in south Lebanon.
U.S. President Bill Clinton said on Friday he would seriously consider the possibility of moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, adding that a decision would be made by the end of the year.
Most of the world does not recognize Israel's annexation of Arab East Jerusalem, captured in the 1967 Middle East war, which Palestinians want as the capital of a future independent state.
Nasrallah said the possible U.S. move was aimed against all Arabs and Moslems, and called on Palestinians to revert to the option of fighting following the failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks last week.
"After the failure of Camp David-2 Clinton wants to recognize Jerusalem as a united, eternal capital of Israel. On whom are they exerting pressure? It is not on the Palestinian negotiators who conceded everything a long time ago, but on all Moslems and Arabs," Nasrallah said.
"Because Jerusalem might face a new occupation, you have to go back to the option of resistance and Jihad (holy war) and to reject American help and money," Nasrallah added.
In Washington the State Department had no immediate comment on the Hezbollah threat.
In 1983, suicide attacks destroyed the U.S. embassy in Beirut and the headquarters of U.S. Marines operating as peace-keepers in Lebanon, killing more than 300 people including over 240 U.S. soldiers. The U.S. administration accused Hezbollah of masterminding the attacks.
Nasrallah said Hezbollah (Party of God) would not give up its weapons in south Lebanon until all Lebanese prisoners in Israel were released.
"We did not give up our weapons and we will never do so as long as there is one Lebanese prisoner in Israel," he said. "We will not renounce the option of resistance as long as we have an occupied land."
Israel is holding 30 Lebanese as hostages to be used as a bargaining chip for information about Israeli pilot Ron Arad, who went missing after an air raid on Lebanon in 1986.
On May 24 Israel pulled out its troops from a 15 km (nine miles) south Lebanon security zone, ending 22 years of occupation and honoring a U.N. Security Council resolution.
Hezbollah had led a war of attrition against Israeli troops in Lebanon for nearly two decades.
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