The third visit of the Israeli prime minister to Washington as of Feb 12 came as the Israeli warplanes staged mock air raids deep into Lebanon flying even over the capital Beirut. The mock raids came on the second day of the air raids against targets in the Bekaa and south Beirut. The Lebanese foreign ministry requested formally yesterday the international monitoring committee to meet to discuss Lebanon's complaints of the Tuesday air raids by Israel, which is regarded here as violation of the ceasefire reached last year. A Lebanese shepherd has been wounded also three other Palestinians, Lebanon also accused the warplanes targeted also the civilians in the village of Lussi near Baalbeck. Israel has also lodged a complaint claiming to find out 5 explosive charges along the road to Beit Lif village inside the security zone. The monitoring committee would meet on Monday, news reports said.
In south Lebanon, the SLA artillery shelled what it called strongholds of the Hizbullah in Iqlim Toffah, especially Jabal Rafeeh, Arab Salim ,Jarjou, and the nearby valleys, which the SLA says the resistance men are using it to launch attacks against the security zone.
The Lebanese officials see that the situation in south will remain under control despite the recent flare ups. The defense minister Mohsen Dalloul said '"the air raids are the reflections of the internal crisis in Israel following the death of 73 soldiers, and the situation in south Lebanon will not deteriorate".
The speaker of the parliament Nabih Berri gave optimism who is now in Paris. Mr Berri quoted telling the visiting deputies that the Israeli prime minister Netanyahu will ask Washington to push for the resumption of the peace talks on the Lebanese and the Syrian tracks. The visitors also quoted him saying Israel is now more bent on reaching a settlement, and that the prime minister Hariri was satisfied of a positive analysing of the situation in the region as conveyed by French P.Chirac. The foreign minister Fares Boueiz, who held talks in Paris with the French counterpart, quoted saying France has no intention or readiness to respond positively to the idea of sending troops to south Lebanon, and that Israel is trying to"market" the "Lebanon First" proposal but in a new version, also Israel is exerting efforts with both France and the USA to pressure Syria and Lebanon to reach an agreement with Israel over an organised pull out from south Lebanon.
The minister also quoted saying France believes that the "Lebanon First" proposal is unrealistic and has no chance of success, out of the peace talks' framework and the resumption of the peace talks on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks. The Lebanese foreign ministry is informed that France is not coordinating with Israel over south Lebanon, which its situation will remain same as now and until a peace settlement is reached, and for the time being, the monitoring committee is an acceptable and sufficient framework. France also says that sending troops to south is not under discussion at present, and such an idea will not take place without he knowledge of Beirut and Damascus and their approval. France condition that sending its troops to south Lebanon should be requested by Lebanon first, and that Syria and Lebanon on one hand and Israel should reach an agreement on south second , something is not possible before the resumption of the peace talks, and not possible out of the peace process framework. The French diplomacy is seeking to achieve four goals including :
1-The resumption of the peace talks on the Syrian and the Lebanese tracks.
2-To consolidate the 1996 April's understanding and to work to scale down any military escalation every time the peace talks make progress.
3-France to pledge, also Europe and the USA, to ensure the security guarantees along the borders of Lebanon with Israel.
4-Syria and Lebanon to be in agreement on this mechanism and on the relevant measures on the ground ,which should be at the same time, both in south and on the Golan heights.
The Allama Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah said yesterday that the deadly Israeli helicopters collision marks the beginning of the end of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. He said " the value of the event itself and the debate have proved that the occupation of the south and West Bekaa does not enjoy the full support of the Israeli society". He added that "the Israeli people have begun to compare their ordeal in south Lebanon and the American ordeal in Vietnam which ended with a US pull out".
The Israeli defense minister Yuitzhak Mordechai and the French visiting counterpart discussed in Israel yesterday the possibility of expanding the French troops presence in south, as a part of the M.E peace agreement. They also discussed the possible arrangements for an international troop presence as a part of an israeli-Lebanese deal, Israel's defense ministry spokesman said. On Tuesday, France opposed an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and the replacement of the Israeli troops by a multi national force as has been suggested, instead, France supports Lebanon's demand for a comprehensive peace settlement.
A Hizbullah responsible source expressed dismay yesterday over the remarks attributed to the French ambassador in Israel. The ambassador quoted saying the security of Israel does not allow its troops unilateral withdrawal from south, and that such withdrawal requires the disarm of Hizbullah. The responsible source argued why the security, sovereignty and safety of the Lebanese people is ignored, and recalls that the Hizbullah arms is for the protection and should not be equalled to the occupant's arms. The head of Hizbullah parliament bloc Ibrahim Sayyed said yesterday " we have no other option than the resistance and Israel have no other option than to pull out'.
The news reports in Beirut said prime minister Hariri was told during his last visit to Damascus that Syria favors to postpone the meeting of the Lebanese Syrian Supreme Council to March instead of mid Feb, because of the intensed moves related to the peace process. They also expect the peace talks with Israel to be resumed in two month time, after the US administration is working on a paper which stems from the earlier peace talks, and which will be adopted as a framework to call both Syria and Israel to the negotiating table.
Reliable sources in the Vatican said Pope Jean Paul II will visit Lebanon 11th May and he will possibly stay one and half day, for that, he would start his visit on the 10th of May.
Doury Chamoun, leader of the NLP and an opposition figure, said yesterday he opposes the visit of the Pope to Lebanon because it will be a consecration of the current situation in Lebanon. He criticised the Lebanese government saying it has no decision making power.
Cardinal Sfair is scheduled to leave to the Vatican on 19th Feb to participate in the Synod on Lebanon. The arrangements of a visit to Brazil by the cardinal is underway as its first such visit by a Maronite patriarch to the country that hosted millions of the Lebanese. H.E will meet the Brazilian officials and the Lebanese community there which will cheerfully receive him. Schedule of the visit is publicised by local agencies as follow:
The investigating magistrate George Ghantous yesterday demanded the death penalty for Samir Geagea and two of his top security aides Ghassan Touma and Ghassan Menassa, on the charge of murdering the late Rashid Karami in 1987.
Judge Ghantous also asked life imprisonment for 10 LF security agents including Gaby Touma, Antonios Elias, Afif Khoury, Joseph Sukkar, Assaad Kassab, Elias Kassab, George Zoghbi, Antoine Shidiak, Mickhail Aneh, and Aziz Saleh. The same sentence was asked for four Lebanese army officers including Brig. Khalil Mattar, retired Major Kietel hayek and Sgt Camille Rami. The fourth is the soldier Hassan Ali Ahmad charged of planting a bomb at Karami's grave in Tripoli weeks after the assassination of Karami. He wanted the investigators to believe the killers were from Tripoli. The indictment of Judge Ghantous said Geagea wanted to eliminate Karami, who opposed Geagea plan to set up an airport in Halat. Also it said that Geagea had feared a political agreement between late Karami and the late Camille Chamoun on constitutional reforms, which could have undermined Geagea's position in the Christian community. The indictment also said that late Karami had opposed the ambition of Geagea to have a ministerial portfolio.
Judge Ghantous' indictment was based on a review by the prosecutor general Adnan Addoum. The Judicial Council is to look into the case but a trial date has not been set yet. Mr geagea is currently serving two life sentences and tried at present for his masterminding two attempts to kill in 1991 the then defense minister Michel Murr, also he is serving a 10 year sentence after being found guilty of forming a militant group, after all the militias were dissolved in 1991 and seeking to destabilise the security. Two of his aides were sentenced to death in absentia for bombing a church in 1994 in Zouk, but Geagea involvement was never proven.
The Iranian embassy in Lebanon celebrated yesterday the 18th anniversary of the Islamic revolution at a reception held at the Summerland hotel. The Iranian ambassador in an open address to the Lebanese people hailed the heroic people of Lebanon, who live in the hearts of all the Iranians, also he paid tribute to all those who saved no effort for the dignity, freedom and independence of Lebanon, who also safeguarded the territorial integrity and unity of Lebanon in the face of the enemies ,especially Israel. He paid special tribute to the resistance fighters.
The ambassador Hom Ayoun Ali Zadeh lashed out at the international media ,especially those run by the USA or the zionists, for tarnishing the achievement of the 1979 Iranian revolution. The speaker Nabih Berri said the Iranian revolution has changed not only the Islamic world, the Arabic world, and the issue of the resistance but also changed the whole world which is now divided into two, the world of the oppressors and the world of the oppressed and deprived.
The Lebanese information minister Bassem Sabbaa said yesterday he set coming Tuesday as the final date for receiving the applications of the audio - visual stations, leaving up to the national council of information to decide the number of stations going to be licensed. He said his announcement came after a one hour meeting with the audio-visual media stations' follow up committee. The follow up committee sources said the applications stand at 19, including three for television stations and 16 for radio stations licenses.
The minister of environment Akram Shehayeb banned yesterday the import of hazardous waste, and said Lebanon is one of the few countries , in the developing world, that has adopted such legislation. Lebanon comes next after Egypt and Tunisia to adopt such strict import legislation. The minister said also "the legislation will put a lot of constraints against the import of the recyclable materials, under which wastes from Belgium, Germany and Canada entered Lebanon in the past". The import of toxic wastes to Lebanon has caused a large public row in Lebanon.The decision stipulates that "the importation of residues, even those prepared for cycling, which belong to the category A of the EEC's green list, is prohibited except for the classified industrial establishments which are licensed for the recycling".
The Greenpeace organisation said that the ban is a success for the environment, it puts Lebanon on the track for introducing pure clean production methods in all the industrial processes. the organisation's representative in Lebanon Fuad Hamdan praised the minister decision, and said the Lebanese minister of environment is sending a clear message to all the waste exporters in the world that Lebanon no longer a dump for the waste.
The speaker of the parliament called the deputies for two debates next week to discuss a total of 24 draft bills referred from the government. The main items are:
The basketball lebanon's cup for 1997-phase 1
The Lebanese national soccer union blasted at its meeting yesterday the memorandum signed by 27 foreign soccer players in Lebanon , claiming they are living in Lebanon in a miserable situation. The foreign players send a copy of their memo to the international soccer union. The Lebanese union see the memo is a racial motivated one and its an extreme harm to the Lebanese football image.
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