News from Beirut March 10  1997  .......Search

South Lebanon Tension

Israeli air raids on March 9 at the Hizbullah's outposts west of Mashghara town and Toumat Niha inflicted no casualties. One Israeli soldier was wounded in the Islamic resistance ambushes against Israeli patrols in south Lebanon, rising number of the Israeli wounded to 26 in addition to 5 killed, all as of the beginning of the year.

The Israeli artillery shelling centered on the villages in the Iqlim Toffah and the middle sector. Israeli gunboats continued it's siege to the Lebanese coast from Naqoura to Sarafand, banning the fishermen boats to sail far more than 1500 meters from coast. The Israeli escalation was in parallel with news reports about an Israeli pull back from Jezzine. Lebanese political sources say such leaked reports aim to cause a rift between the resistance and the villagers in the area.

Speaker Nabih Berri quoted saying that news on the Israeli pull back from the vicinities of Jezzine and Kfarfalous are merely a redeployment of forces, and that should not cause any rift, adding he is in favour of any Israeli withdrawal from any region in south and west Bekaa.

News reports today said two Lebanese policemen were wounded in a land mine explosion east of Sidon and one israeli soldier wounded in a booby trapped car explosion at Markaba main road.

The Israeli new escalation came at time the USA had vetoed a European draft resolution at the UN Security Council which condemned the Israeli settlement policy in east jerusalem. 14 member state were in favor and only the USA vetoed the draft.

Lebanon- Politics

Prime minister Rafic Hariri visit to Damascus over the weekend, and his talks with Syrian V.P Abdel Halim Khaddam and other senior officials, centered on the latest regional developments and the bilateral relations. He discussed the visit to Beirut and Damascus by France's foreign minister and it's outcome, the Japanese five case and the relation among Lebanon's top  officials.

P.Elias Hrawi quoted yesterday questioning why Speaker Nabih Berri did not visit yet the presidential palace, since there is no serious problems with him. P.Hrawi is said to be opposed to the proposed administrative division of Lebanon, which had suggested 24 governorates. P.Hrawi said to be preferring a division of only 9 governorates, including 2 for north, 2 for south, 2 for mountain, and one for Beirut.

Former Prime minister Omar Karami said nothing prevents his meeting with president Hrawi, and that he is ready to preside a Parliamentary inquiry committee to check the scandals raised by P.Hrawi and the officials, in order to calm down the public opinion.


The case of the Japanese five is now a merely judicial file. Investigating judge Saeed Mirza is to meet today the general prosecutor to present the result of his investigation with the five. The judiciary in Lebanon see that the charges against the Japanese is clear and specific, as long the judiciary will not try the back history of the group neither it's political affiliation. The indictment will center only on their violation to the Lebanese law on Lebanon's territory.

M.E- Europe- Peace process

European union envoy Migel Ankhel Moratinos is due to arrive today to Beirut, coming from Damascus, in a new European initiative to regenerate the peace talks now at an impasse. His visit comes few days after the visit of  France's foreign minister de Charette, who expressed his concern over a military escalation in south and the possible large scale blitz by Israel.

Lebanese officials exclude any specific proposal by the envoy and say the European diplomacy aims only at demonstrating a European presence in the M.E. After a meeting with prime minister, speaker, and foreign minister said he is conveying suggestions but not a concrete initiative. Lebanon foreign minister said the suggestion conveyed by the envoy worth to be pursued.

Lebanon-Municipal election

Prime minister Rafic Hariri did not exclude postponement of the municipal councils' election on time in June if the number of those who obtained the election card does not exceed 30 per cent of the total voters.

Deputy Issam Fares said correcting the voters lists is a national obligation calling for a consensus in each village so that the municipal councils could stand for it's obligations.

Deputy Mahmoud Abu Hamdan said the concern now is that the municipal election to be held with honesty so that clean hands and people of qualifications would take the posts. He said he supports extending the deadline for obtaining the election card, so that emigrants can exercise their election right by the spring and summer when they come to Lebanon.

Deputy Ali Osseiran said he supports the idea that the municipal election to be dissociated from politics, because at present the municipal councils should not be involved in politics. He also called for extending the deadline to apply for the election cards saying the time given is not enough.

Hariri-Hoss- Salam coalition over Beirut municipal council would hold the Beirut coming municipal council. 8 out of the 24 member council are to be appointed not elected according to the law.

Minister Walid Jumblat-Quarries and Environment

Minister Walid Jumblat, at a press conference held at Mukhtara town and centered on the issue of quarries and environment problems in Iqlim Kharoub in the Chuf region, said there are quarries in Iqlim, one owned by him, and he is ready to close it. He said the recent campaign against quarries in the Iqlim is directed against him, and regard him responsible of forcing the residents there out.

He said behind each quarry or sand site there is a financial wheel and he is one of them. He demanded total closure of quarries allover Lebanon and to import rocks from Syria or Cyprus. He also said the campaign is raised to discredit him and his PSP party environment minister Akram Shehayeb who has the qualification but not the power authority to deal with environment problems.

Lebanon-US-Security and Terrorism

An American security team, recently visited Beirut and met the general prosecutor Adnan Addoum and Lebanese officials, discussed 4 major issues including

1. The independence of Lebanese judiciary authority in view of the talk on political interferences in the judicial system

2. The security of the airport, for which the team renewed their demand to unify the security agencies in the airport and be merged in one unified exclusive agency commanded by one official

3.The main road and vicinity of the airport where the Americans have certain suggestions

4. The activities of some parties such as Hizbullah and the Kurdish PKK also other groups on which the USA draw a redline to it's existence. The Americans said to have linked the issues raised with the US aids which will be extended to Lebanon.

News In Brief

-Hariri held talks with Hizbullah deputies Ibrahim Amin Sayyed and discussed the withdrawal from Jezzine. Hizbullah deputies said this is political games by the government of Netanyahu and it is not a worthy withdrawal.

-Transport minister Omar Miskawi, upon his departure to Amman-Jordan in an official visit, said he will sign an agreement on sea transport.

- Environment minister Akram Shehayeb held talks in Damascus yesterday with Syrian prime minister Mahmoud Zohbi, in presence of Syrian environment minister and the S.G of the Lebanese Syrian Supreme Council's Nasri Khoury.

- Deputy speaker Elie Firzli, arrived back to Beirut after a visit to the Vatican, where he held talks with the vatican foreign minister and other officials. He declared that the visit of the Pope to Lebanon would affirm he is sticking to the Israeli withdrawal out of Lebanon back to the internationally recognised borders.

- In the 34th anniversary of the Syrian revolution of 8th March, the Baath party organisation of  Kesrouan, Metn, and Byblos held a rally at cinema Saint Elie in Sin El Fil. Speakers at the rally included Interior minister Michel Murr, Baath party state minister Ghazi Seifedine, Bishop Elias Nejem and deputy Emile Nawfal. Minister Murr said the peace process is at a stand still and no peace in the region without Syria. He also said Syria won't accept less than a comprehensive and just peace, and president Assad is the safety revolver who in his hand lies the key to peace. He said P.Assad was the first contributor and perhaps the only one who helped the closure of the war's file in Lebanon.

- Lebanese politicians and groups denounced the US veto against a UN security council's proposed resolution condemning the Israeli new settlement in east Jerusalem.

- Lebanon celebrated the teacher's day with nation wide calls to enhance the living conditions of the teacher and regenerate the public schools.

- Former deputy Fathi Yakan urged president Elias Hrawi to take more time to endorse the death sentences issued by the judiciary, until all the cases now before courts, or that which will come later, be finalized, so that justice will be enforced on all crimes at sametime, including the crimes of murdering Sheikh Hassan Khaled, Subhi Saleh, Rashid Karami, Hassan Assaf and others.

- The French helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc departed the Beirut seaport following a friendly visit to Beirut.


Al Ansar soccer team won yesterday Lebanon football championship for the 9th consecutive year after beating Tadamoun -Tyr 3-0 at Sidon's stadium. The team raised up yesterday his points to 59 with 7 points margin from the second team Nejmeh, which defeated the Racing 2-0 rising it's total point to 52.

- Lebanon basketball championship: Riyadi-Beirut defeated the Kahraba yesterday with70-66. Hikmeh defeated the Antranik with 84-80. Tadamoun defeated Beit Meri with 95-77.

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