Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem told the Financial Times on Friday that his group will be prepared to discuss disarmament if Israel withdrew from Shebaa Farms.

Kassem said if Israel completes its withdrawal Hezbollah’s fighters would become a kind of reservist army working with Lebanese authorities.

Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon, keeping a small border area called Shebaa farms. Lebanon says the Farms are Lebanese sovereign areas; Israel claims the Farms were conquered from Syria during the 1967 war.

The United Nations describes the farms as Israeli-occupied Syrian territory.

‘We will discuss [Hezbollah’s] arms after Shebaa but on condition that a credible alternative is found to protect Lebanon,’ Kassem told the Financial Times.

‘A reservist army doesn’t mean the resistance becomes part of the army but it is a formula of co-ordination with the army. It is resistance by another name,’ he explained.

Hezbollah controls areas in southern Lebanon since his fighters managed to drive Israel out of Lebanon after a 22-year Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in May 2000.

Debate about disarming Hezbollah has resurfaced since Syria began withdrawing its troops from Lebanon.

The United Nations Security Council resolution 1559 also calls for the disarmament of Hezbollah.