This photo taken of a monitor shows Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah gesturing as he speaks during a press conference via video link on August 9, 2010 on the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Lebanon's Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made his first public appearance since 2008 on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, appearing before a frenzied crowd in his stronghold on the occasion of the Shiite commemoration of Ashura Image Credit: AFP

Damascus: Soon after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wrapped up his press conference on Monday night, various Lebanese politicians offered their reactions to his accusation that Israel was behind the 2005 murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

With one or two exceptions, from second- and third-rank politicians in the March 14 Coalition, most were strongly supportive of Nasrallah's speech.

Walid Junblatt, a former opponent turned ally of Hezbollah, was among the first to speak in the party's favour. Speaking live on the party's Al Manar TV channel, he said that Nasrallah's speech "opened the doors wide" to new avenues of investigation.

If the evidence presented by Nasrallah was reviewed by an "honest investigation committee", Junblatt added, then this could alter the atmosphere in Lebanon.

Call for clarification

For his part, former president Amin Gemayel called on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) to make public its understanding of what happened on February 14, 2005. If the tribunal did not have enough evidence to make a case against Hezbollah, then Nasrallah's account of events should be seriously considered, he said.

Former Future Movement MP Mustafa Allush, speaking to Al Arabiya, was more critical, saying that he was not convinced by Nasrallah's evidence. He argued that Nasrallah should have provided "names and details as to how the murder was carried out".

Insufficient

Khalid Zahraman, a March 14 MP who is close to Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, took a similar line, saying that only the STL was authorised to deal with the issue of Hariri's murder. He claimed that the footage Nasrallah provided was insufficient, since Israel carries out routine observation of the Lebanese coast in regular espionage flights over Beirut.

Talal Arslan, a Hezbollah ally, added: "For the first time, evidence appears that proves Israel had a major role in the assassination of Rafik Hariri".

He added that the Hezbollah leader's words proved without a shadow of a doubt that there had been "blatant manipulation" of the investigation since 2005.

Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement, a staunch Hezbollah ally, noted that the evidence was "important", and called for a new investigation. He argued that the STL's findings since 2005 should be disregarded.

MP Emille Rahme, leader of the Solidarity Party that is affiliated with Hezbollah ally Sulaiman Franjiyeh, backed that view.