News from Beirut March 15  1997  .......Search

Lebanon-Solidarity Day With South And West Bekaa

In their 19th commemoration of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon on March 14, 1978, many Lebanese rallied yesterday to recognize this fateful and regretful event. The Lebanese Parliament, in a special session, with deputies of four committees including foreign affairs, emigrants, education and defense, deplored the 19 years Israeli occupation and called upon the world community to press for the implementation of UN resolution 425. Fourteen deputies-especially those representing Hizbullah-- addressed the Assembly by attacking the US backing of Israel and hailing the resistance. They also stressed the need to maintain fusion in the Lebanese-Syrian tracks in the peace process and emphasized the need for national unity.

At the conclusion of the session, the Parliament's committees issued five recommendations including:

-Reaffirming the legislature's commitment to implement UN resolution 425.

-Reaffirming the right to resist occupation in all possible ways.

-Stressing the need to raise international awareness of Israeli violations of human rights as Israel repeatedly attacks civilian targets in villages, and through detaining Lebanese civilians under harsh conditions.

-Stressing the need to reinforce national unity and support to the resistance.

-Reaffirming Lebanon's commitment to pursue the peace process in coordination with Syria.

-US Ambassador to Lebanon, Richard Jones, and many other foreign and Arab ambassadors attended the Parliament's special session. Ambassador Jones said he was not surprised by the criticism of his administration for its ardent support toward Israel. He said he expected such reactions, especially after the US veto at the UN Security Council which caused dismay in the region. He said this is the second anniversary he attends during his mission here but he hasn't seen much progress between last year's anniversary and this one. The ambassador adds that there is continuation of the cycle of violence and loss of lives in the region. Jones said "occupation of territory, whoever does it in the region, is wrong."

- At a central rally at the Islamic University at Chatila in Beirut, a gathering of about 2,000 people, led by speaker Nabih Berri, Arab League S.G  Issmat Abdel Magid, deputy S.G of the Baath party Abdallah el Ahmar, head of  the Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mehdi Shamseddine, and other dignitaries, was held in the absence of President Elias Hrawi. Abdel Magid pledged continued support for the resistance and Lebanon's development. He announced that the date of Qana massacre on 18th April would become an official day of mourning for all Arabs. He said Lebanon stands against Israel which disregards all UN resolutions, and the Israeli continued occupation of Southern Lebanon. He stressed that solution to the conflict should be according to land for peace formula which should be applied in all the lands occupied by Israel. He called upon Israel to withdraw from the South. Speaker Nabih Berri said, "We have two initial projects to support the south, and bring the region often neglected, into line with the rest of the country. The first is the Bassel Assad cultural center in Tyre which will have the cornerstone laid on Saturday, and the second is to build a museum in Qana to commemorate the martyrs."

He said that a sport complex will be built by the Syrian government at the former Israeli prison at Ansar in the South.

He continued that Israel's proposals including "Lebanon first" and "Jezzine first" are all tricks designed to weaken the Arab resolve. Berri recalls, "Israel's aim is not only the waters of Litany river but to force Lebanon and Syria surrender and the Arabs to be torn down." He called the Arab League to establish an Arab Fund to finance the reconstruction program.

Shamseddine noted that no country has the right to settle Lebanon's future, and the 14th March is intended for the ears of the international community rather than Lebanese. Akkar deputy, Issam Fares, pledged to contribute personally to build a national heritage museum at Tyre.

- The Lebanese government had called for a midday 5 minutes of silence and instructed workers and traffics to halt. Around 500 people converged to the Sassine square in Ashrafieh to light candles and listen to national songs. The AUB University cultural club organized an exhibition displaying photos of the Israeli atrocities. Rallies were held throughout the country, with school boys having UN resolution 425 inscribed. Fishermen at Sidon, Sarafand and Tyre sailing on mass along the coast to Awali river with their boats bedecked with 425 ribbons and national flag. Nabatieh was decorated in yellow banners and the national flag. In Bekaa, Hizbullah erected models of Katyushya rockets and burned the Israeli flag. In many areas, donation boxes, in the shape of Jerusalem's Aqsa mosque, gathered collections for the resistance.

- The Lebanese community overseas also marked the commemoration. Lebanese students gathering in Ottawa-Canada organized a photo exhibition showing the Israeli hostilities. Ambassador Assem Jaber reaffirmed the legitimate right of the resistance and urged the Lebanese community and Canadian government to call for the implementation of UN Resolution 425.

- The Lebanese embassy in Washington, same as Lebanese missions abroad, called the Lebanese community in the USA to keep the commemoration live in their memory, and urged the world community to press for a rapid implementation of the resolution.

- The Lebanese community in Germany hanged yellow ribbons on their cars and explained the occasion and the background of the resolution to the German public.

- Speaker Nabih Berri, in a radio interview yesterday, said that the resistance against Israel is a peace card and that Israel cannot drop down UN resolutions (especially 425), because Lebanon's strong card is the unity and solidarity of its people, which created a resistance that exhausts Israel and will force it to implement the resolution. He said Israel itself had initiated the resistance against it by ignoring that Southern Lebanon is a land of  holiness and it is a death or life case for us. He said the monitoring panel is not a solution but it is preferable that it exists in order to be a witness on what happens though it can't be the judge.

- Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, in an address to a seminar on Jerusalem in Beirut Al Nadwa forum, said that Israel is not presently at its best time because of Netanyahu's cabinet and the extremism that overwhelms. He noted that Israel is now facing problems with two signatories of the peace accords it had concluded, Egypt and Jordan. In addition, Israel's negotiation with the Palestinian authority is stumbling. He said the whole world rejects the policy of Israel and the time has proved that we were right in our decision to coordinate fully with Syria against the Israeli maneuvers.

- In Southern Lebanon, the Islamic resistance launched a series of attacks against the Israeli outposts at Sojod and Bir Kallab, in the central sector, and at Kassaret al Ouroushe and Mashaaroun in the middle sector. The Israeli artillery fired over 60 shells at the outskirts of Baraachit, Tibnin, Aita el Jabal and Jabal el Zaatar. A house was damaged at Houmine village but no casualties were reported. The Islamic resistance claimed responsibility of  an attack against an Israeli Mirkava tank at the Hemayyed road in the western sector. It said the crew of the tank were either killed or wounded.

President Hrawi- Doctor's Syndicate

Lebanese President, Elias Hrawi, speaking at the 50th anniversary of the doctor's syndicate at Beirut's Coral Beach hotel, said that he "condemns the killing of school girls on the Jordanian borders but questions if the world had condemned the blood of our women and children martyrs in Qana." He was referring to the 100 Lebanese civilians who were killed by Israeli artillery at the base of the Fijian troops of the UNIFIL at Qana last April. He added, "Those who have cut short their visits to Europe and returned back to condemn what happened, have they stood by us and condemned what happened in Qana last year."

President Hrawi also condemned yesterday's attack on Copts in Egypt saying that "it's the second attack on a group of people who follow a man who has previously ignored all that has taken place between Egypt and Israel, and now they are killing his followers, what is this fundamentalism," he questioned.

President Hrawi said how could Israel claim it wants peace when it keeps attacking our people, and every time Lebanon heads to development and reconstruction Israel ruins our efforts by bombardments and destruction.

-Arab League Secretary-General Issmat Abdel Magid, after his meetings yesterday with President Hrawi and Foreign Minister Boueiz, said the peace process stands now at a hard and delicate point, and that Lebanon's resistance is a lesson to the world. Deputy S.G of the Baath party, Abdalah el Ahmar, said after a meeting with Prime Minister Hariri that he is against any violence aiming at innocents but the Middle East tensions would not be resolved without a just peace.

Brazil-Cardinal Sfair

Cardinal Sfair said Lebanon, as a message of freedom and an ideal example of pluralism based on coexistence between the Christians and Muslims, is a unique experience. He urged the Lebanese in and out of Lebanon to unite and agree to non variable national concepts as well as to maintain a free sovereign and independent Lebanon. Brazil's federal parliament member, Ricardo Azar, of Lebanese descent, said a petition by 43 parliament members has been raised to French President Jacques Chirac, now visiting Brazil, to work for the restoration of peace in Lebanon. Political analysis in Beirut said Cardinal Sfair suggests that the Taif agreement was not fully implemented. He suggests that a national unity government should be first formed based on a national real conciliation. He thinks that it is right for Lebanon to resist the occupation of its land. He contends that he is in favour of the full implementation of the Taif before suggesting any constitutional reforms.

On the relation with Syria, Cardinal Sfair stressed the point that any relation with Syria should be through the state of Lebanon and that would constitute consequently an approach to the rapprochement between Syria and the Christians. He is quoted as saying that readjusting the local imbalance is a way to a final solution in Lebanon. He asserts that peace in Middle East leads to peace in Lebanon, affirming that the war is over in Lebanon but peace is not restored yet and "we are now at a state of no peace no war."

Media Licenses

Minister of Information, Bassem Sabbaa, said the government is tending to issue as much as possible licenses to the audio-visual media, but such intention would not mean a reverse step toward anarchy and chaos that had prevailed before. He said the higher audio-visual media's council study of  applications may conclude at the end of the month. Speaking at a seminar yesterday, Sabbaa said the council has made substantial headway in studying approximately 34 applications for licenses. Sabbaa asserted that the largest number of licenses possible will be granted, as long as the principle of  covering all the country is maintained. He claims his ministry is now tackling many issues at the same time, including the state-owned media, print media, broadcast licenses and the ministry itself.

He added that the state radio, staff and equipment, had been plundered during the war time. The Tele Liban station is now under study trying to redefine its legal and function role.

Displaced Affairs

-Minister for the Displaced, Walid Jumblat, told a TV station that the government's decision to enforce court rulings to evacuate displaced without consulting his ministry was "sneaked" through the council of ministers. He said the decision, proposed by prime minister Hariri and endorsed by the government on December, was referred to the concerned ministries on February 11. Mr. Jumblat added the justice minister or the government has to annul the decision or exempt the displaced from it. The decision contradicted with the government plan of July 1992 to repatriate the displaced, which prohibited evacuation without permission of the Ministry of the Displaced.

Chuf deputy, Nabil Bustany, denounced all attempts to evacuate the war-displaced without coordinating that with the Ministry of the Displaced. He said, "attempts aimed at throwing the squatters out to the streets are haphazard, oppressive, and negligent of any human values." He questioned whether such policy aims at forcing the displaced out of the country.

Ernest Karam, head of the Maronite League, said the government should find a final solution to the displaced instead of using its force to displace them again. He said if this is the policy the government is going to use to resolve the displaced problem then it would move the case to the street.

-The PSP party leader and minister, Walid Jumblat, in the 20th commemoration of  the party founder Kamal Jumblat, said the Lebanese citizens should be freed of political exploitation, economical hegemony, and corrupted public administration. The statement called for building a just political system which should achieve dignity of citizen, abolish political Confessionalism. The party's statement stressed the need to consolidate national unity and steadfastness against Israel. Party member deputy Alaa Terrou, in a sport tournament held in the occasion at Shouf, said freedom and democracy in Lebanon are on their way to vanish, as individuals are replacing the institutions. The one option takes place of the public opinion, and the peasants workers are of no support as the system denies their rights.

News In Brief

-NLP party leader, Douri Chamoun, called for finalizing the municipal election's cards, reiterating his stand on the election. He was joined by minister Junblat's call to government to annul the decision of evicting squatters according to court rulings. The party demanded a halt to political interventions in the Lebanese university affairs.

- As Lebanon's municipal and mayoral election is nearing, Gen. Michel Aoun, who is now in favour of running the election through supporters, is coordinating with the National Gathering and other Christian groups. He is informed daily on the details and the preparations for the election. His main focus is on municipalities such as Jounieh, Baabda and Hadath. In Byblos, there are plenty of candidates representing Byblos families and the national bloc seen split. Allowing emigrants to share in the election is still raw. The Gathering for Lebanon ridiculed yesterday the declaration in Beirut, by the Minister of Interior, who said emigrants who are on the voters list, can elect through authorizing persons to vote on their behalf after certifying the authorization at Lebanese missions abroad. They said they called on the Lebanese embassy in Paris and consulate in Marseille and Paris and that they responded by saying that they have no such information.

- Hizbullah deputy, Mohammed Fneish, said yesterday that the resistance against Israel won't be a monopoly of the Islamic resistance but it should be a right and obligation of all citizens. He added that the recent ruling by the monitoring panel is a fall in the Israeli attempt to shift it from its basic role. He said his party does not accept the panel's call to denounce targeting civilians in the occupied land, steming from an Israeli complaint.

- Sidon deputy, Mustafa Saad, said he will run in the coming municipal election in Sidon with a qualified team to try to put an end to the monopolizing of  projects that some people are trying to apply.

- Baath party official, Abdallah al Ahmar, at a meeting with representatives of Lebanese political parties, urged them to lay down a formula to cooperate and coordinate between Lebanese parties, in bid to initiate a pan Arab uprising against Israel.

- Former deputy Fathi Yakan appealed to President Hrawi to take more time to decide on a death sentence by the judiciary against three murderers who shot and killed Sheikh Nizar Halabi in Beirut. Yakan said the case is more than an assassination and larger than a conflict between two groups, but it is a matter relating to Muslim Sunni belief all over the world. He wished President Hrawi would call on Sunni clerics to consult their opinion on the case.

- Death sentence against Mohammed Kour, who murdered a notable at Nahle north Lebanon, also attempted earlier murder of a cousin, father in law and another cousin, is to be executed on Monday. President Hrawi and Prime Minister Hariri signed the sentence on last Thursday.

- Yesterday, three Japanese, who were detained in Lebanon for three weeks on suspicion of belonging to Red Army group , later freed in Lebanon for lack of evidence, arrived back in Tokyo. The three, two men and a woman, may be questioned by the Japanese authorities. The three were deported out of  Lebanon last Thursday via London. The Lebanese government tried to portray them as Japanese spies sent by Tokyo to infiltrate into the Red Army group. The unofficial spy charges were reportedly meant to temper any extradition request by Tokyo for the other five members who are reportedly members of the group. In Beirut, judicial sources said the questioning of the five would end next week opening the way for the investigating magistrate to file charges.

- Yesterday, Belgian archeologist, Raymound Lemaire, toured the archeological sites at Deir el Qamar,and Beit el Din to ascertain which sites are worthy of inclusion in the UNESCO's annual World Heritage List.

- Military investigator, Riyad Taleeh, charged seven alleged agents to Israel, an offense that is punished by up to ten years in jail. The seven are all in custody. Last month, the military court charged 91 Lebanese on similar grounds.

- CDR President, Nabil Jisr, denied allegations that the council had any problem with the joint venture now constructing a new runway and breakwater at Beirut airport. He refused the allegations of stalled payment to the contractor the CCC company.

- A draft bill on decentralized system was shelved by the parliament justice and administration committee, awaiting a draft bill on the general election which the government is going to send shortly. The committee thinks that the two bills are interrelated. President Hrawi had suggested the parliamentary election be held  on two stages; one at the Qadaa which is preparatory and another on national level. Speaker Nabih Berri favors the holding of election according to the present law in force. Hariri wants each of the present governatorial to be divided into more than one constituency.

Sports Round Up

-Head of the Lebanese Football Union, Nabil Raaii, and representatives of the soccer teams Nijmeh, Homentmen, Shabiba, Burj, and others also director general of the sport department Zayd Khiami, were on a visit yesterday to the outposts of the Islamic resistance in Southern Lebanon, upon invitation from the Hizbullah sports organization for 14th March commemoration. Raaii and Omar Ghandour of the Nijmeh said the resistance is representing the honor of the nation and it will achieve a victory. They were received at the site by two former deputies of Hizbullah Ali Ammar and Mohammed Berjawi.

-The last week of the football cup is to be opened today with only one match at Tripoli stadium between the Homentmen and Safa. The Homentmen hope it will lead to guarantee third rank on the table, also to supply Wartan with the chance to score more goals to top the record of scores.

-Lebanese national soccer team is to leave to Dubai in the Gulf on Monday to play friendly match with UAE. This is the 13th friendly match for the national team.

-On the 9th stage of the basketball championship: Tadamoun defeated Kahraba with 89-66. Abnaa Nebtoune defeated beit Meri with 83-78. Antranik won over Ihyaa Iiyada 8-73.

-Sport Auto race known as "La Ronde Hivernale" is to begin tomorrow with the participation of 21 participants. It is the fourth rally in Lebanon after the Spring Rally, Lebanon International Rally and Arz Rally took place.

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