News from Beirut December 29  1997 ...Search

Hizbullah announces one member freed from Israeli prison

Hizbullah today announced it had carried out a special operation to free one of its members from an Israeli prison. During a press conference today, spokesman Nayef Krayyem said Hizbullah managed to secure the release of  Moussa Zein. He said Zein had returned to Lebanon with the assistance of  Lebanese official agencies but declined to provide any further details about the special operation. The Israeli army meanwhile said it knew nothing about Hizbullah's reported freeing of Zein. The Lebanese daily As-Safir reported that Zein had pretended to cooperate with his captors to feed them false information. Hizbullah sources said that after Zein was sprung up from his Israeli jail, he was transported from one European capital to another before being brought to Beirut undetected. Moussa who was present at the press conference, described to reporters the conditions of his detention and the way he persuaded Israeli Mossad agents that he was working for them.

Shibaa families strike as siege continues and Berri calls for action

Residents of the Southern village of Shibaa today held a strike as the Israeli siege on their village continues for a seventh day today. A delegation from the village today visited House Speaker Nabih Berri in parliament describing the situation in Shibaa in the absence of oil, food and medicine. Around 2,000 families live in the village and are now suffering from a shortage in necessary supplies. Many residents of Shibaa have also been detained by Israeli intelligence forces in the last couple of weeks. Berri today called on Foreign Minister Faris Boueiz to contact the American and European ministers in the country in a bid to pressure Israel to life the siege on Shibaa. The house speaker earlier made contacts with the headquarters of the International Red Cross in Lebanon in move to assure safe passage of supplies to the residents of the village. He also called on the ICRC to take action with regard to pressuring Israel to lift  the blockade. Meanwhile, residents of the village of Al-Arkoub today held a strike in front of the UN headquarters in Bir Hassan in Beirut in an expression of support and sympathy to their brothers in Shibaa. Strikers submitted a memo to the UN secretary general Kofi Annan calling for immediate aide to the people of Shibaa and for the implementation of UN resolution 425 which calls for Israel?s unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon.

Murr says 99% chance local elections will be held on time

After being signed by House Speaker Nabih Berri, the municipal and mayoral election draft law was today signed by Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri. The premier for his part transferred the law to President Elias Al-Hrawi. Hrawi is expected to sign the law soon and order its publishing in the official gazette before the end of the year. Interior Minister Michel Al-Murr today headed a meeting for governors and officials in his ministry. Discussions centered on all possible ways to hold the elections on time. The interior minister later said his ministry will begin preparations for the local elections as of today. Murr added appointments will only be made in eight war-displaced villages in the areas of Shouf, Alayh and Baabda. The elections are scheduled to be held during the second half of May.

Hariri holds meetings on parliamentary Monday

Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today held a series of meetings with deputies and ministers. Discussions centered on two main issues: local elections and the Saudi money deposit. The premier held talks with the deputies Ahmad Swayd, Nabil Shammas, Nouhad Saayd, Elias Al-Khazen, Mansour Ghanem AL-Boun, Nabil Al-Boustani, Wajih Al-Baarini, Alaa Eddine Terro, Istfan Addwayhi, Adnan Arakgi, and Bahaa Eddine Itani. Deputies stressed the importance of holding municipal and mayoral elections in the country.

The visiting deputies also welcomed the Saudi 600-million dollar deposit in the Lebanese Central Bank describing the move as an indicator of trust in the government's financial policy. Deputy Marwan Hmadeh said after talks with the premier the Saudi deposit is a positive step which would ensure more stability in the Lebanese currency. Hmadeh also described the move as a proof of Saudi Arabia's belief in the country's reconstruction drive.

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