Only US can enforce Middle East peace and should pressure Israel, says Lebanon’s foreign minister

Lebanon’s foreign minister called on the US to pressure Israel to end its bloody war with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has entered its fifth month.

Speaking to CNBC on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Abdallah Bou Habib stressed that creating a path to peace is essential and that Washington is in a position to lead the way.

“We want peace, I think the Palestinians are ready for peace and the Americans should… [they are] the only country that can really allow peace,” Bou Habib told CNBC’s Silvia Amaro. “But they should put some pressure on Israel, like what happened in the 70s, Kissinger was there and put pressure on Israel to make peace.”

The minister referred to former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s diplomatic push in 1973, during the so-called Yom Kippur War between Israel and a coalition of Arab states. After six whirlwind trips to the region, Kissinger succeeded in pressuring Israel to withdraw from some of the Arab territory it had seized, both as a means of military disengagement and as part of Israeli security.

Bou Habib said he supports the positions of some European countries that have stopped sending weapons to Israel and that he believes the US should also stop arming the country.

Washington remains Israel’s main foreign backer, sending it about $4 billion a year in military aid, which makes up about 16 percent of Israel’s defense budget, according to the Congressional Research Service. According to the US Agency for International Development, Washington has given Israel $318 billion in military and economic aid since 1951, adjusted for inflation.

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Recent bills in the US Congress have allocated tens of billions more in military aid after the October 7 Hamas terror attack that killed an estimated 1,200 people. Israel’s subsequent offensive against the Gaza Strip and relentless bombing campaign have killed more than 28,000 people in the blockaded territory, according to local Hamas health authorities.

If the US cannot play a prominent role in stopping the hostilities, “then the war will continue,” Bou Habib said. “It is the US that is able to really enforce peace in the region.”

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