News from Beirut March 24  1997  .......Search

Lebanon- Islamic Conference Organization ICO

Lebanon's Prime Minister proposed yesterday an immediate halt of normalization of relations between Israel and the Islamic states in all fields particularly in the economic field. He argued that economic exchanges, as well as other ties, are actually encouraging Israel to proceed with its anti-peace policy, and at the same time giving Israel's economy more momentum to support and protect these policies. The Prime Minister was speaking before the Islamic summit held in Islamabad yesterday. He said that the halting of normalization with Israel by the Islamic countries would give an extra support by these states to their Arab countries. Mr. Hariri added that Lebanon is looking for its friends and brothers to stand beside it and back its stands at international and regional forums, most importantly in its goal of seeing UN resolution 425 implemented.

The Prime Minister also had the chance to meet with the Iranian President Hashimi Rafsanjani in presence of Iran's Foreign Mini Akbar Velayati and the Lebanese Minister of Information Bassem Sabbaa. He also met the Syrian Vice President Abdel Halim Khaddam and Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa, the Pakistani President and Prime Minister, as well as the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.


Lebanon's Speaker Nabih Berri held preliminary talks yesterday with his French counterpart Philip Segain in Paris. Mr. Berri is scheduled to meet today with President Jacques Chirac in his first such a meeting as a speaker. Mr. Berri had visited Paris in 1994 upon an invitation by the late President Francois Mitterand when he was a Minister for Southern Affairs, Justice and Electrical Hydraulic Resources. He left yesterday to Paris on a private jet owned by deputy Issam Fares. Mr. Berri's talks with his French counterpart focused on the situation in the region, amid the rising tensions in Southern Lebanon and the West Bank, following the settlement at Jebel Abu Gneim and Tel Aviv explosion. He will discuss with President Chirac today about the possibility of a French move amid a proposed formula by European envoy based on full withdrawal for full security.

Speaker Nabih Berri received an invitation from his Egyptian counterpart Ahmad Serour to attend the Arab Parliamentary Union's conference in Cairo on the 9th to 12th of May. On the top of the agenda is a proposed plan for an Arab common market which Berri has discussed during visits to, Damascus, Cairo and Kuwait earlier.

President Hrawi- LU Deans

President Elias Hrawi would not sign a recent decree appointing three deans for the Lebanese University. He is reportedly is planning on forming a special committee working at Baabda palace which would be assigned the task of proposing names for those position merely on merit. The president's prerogatives allow him to veto any government decision within 15 days time limit while giving justifications for his measure. The LU is not among the items on the coming government session but the issue of LU's deans would be raised out of the agenda. With such a stand by President Hrawi a reported package among the top officials on LU would have been dropped down. The LU issue is now back at a zero square, but hopes are rising that a fair approach could be constructed in these appointments regardless of the sectarian make-up of the country.


Three Muslim militants including Khaled Mohammed Hamed, Ahmad Monzer el Kassam, and Palestinian Munir Salah Abboud, sentenced to death by a Lebanese court in 1995 for killing former head of Al Ahbash group Sheikh Nizar Halabi,were hanged today at Roumieh prison. The death sentence by the highest court Judicial Council on the 17th of January included, in absentia, the Palestinian Ahmed Abdel Karim Saadi, better known as Abu Mehjen, charged with instigating and planning the crime. Abu Mehjen is thought to be hiding in Ain Helwe camp. Two other persons had been given life sentences for providing protection for the assassins.

The indictment said that the crime committed by these individuals was deliberate, intentional, and motivated by the hostile feelings toward the victim with whom they disagree . The execution followed the endorsement of the sentence by the pardon committee. It was carried despite appeals by Muslim clerics, namely from the Jamaa Islamiya, Muslim Ulema group and other clerics, who urged President Hrawi not to sign the sentence. They have called him to either grant pardon or dismiss the sentence but reports said he had already signed the sentence on Friday. They staged a protest yesterday at a mosque in Sakiet el Janzir in Beirut. Lebanese army units set checkpoints and patrols in Sidon and it's vicinity in precaution of probable reactions. In Beirut, security forces took precautionary measures in the vicinity of the general prosecutor Adnan Addoum's residence after he received phone threats. The fresh executions in Lebanon since 1994 rose up to 11 including two Syrians and a Palestinian. It came one week after a Lebanese murderer was executed last Monday.

South Lebanon-SLA Cracks

News reports said the SLA official in the Beit Lif village Haidar Hashem has deserted the security zone together with his wife and children. The situation inside the SLA, namely in Jezzine area, is now questionable. Tens of young people are reportedly under arrest, and the sudden evacuation of SLA posts at Kfarfalous is an indicator of possible crack. In an earlier incident, some 15 SLA security men, some with senior posts, were arrested for suspicions for the killing of the driver of SLA's Jezzine commander Joseph Karam; the 15 men were jailed at Khiam prison. At the same time, the SLA soldier responsible of the Bater crossing at Chuf was also arrested and handed over to the Israeli security for further investigations. The SLA's detained members were accused of collaborating with a Lebanese security agency. Reports attributed the arrest to an internal conflict of the SLA in Jezzine. The evacuation of SLA posts at Kfarfalous was a result of the detention of the men who were manning SLA posts in the area.

South Lebanon

A delegation representing the Houla village in Southern Lebanon, under Israeli siege since the 10th of March, urged the leadership of AMAL and Hizbullah leadership to attempt to lift the siege and raise the issue with the cease fire monitoring panel. The delegation said half of the village 14 thousand population are still residing there suffering from raids, humiliation, and threats of deportation.

Lebanon-Pope visit

In a recent public opinion poll in Beirut, all Lebanese groups, professions and classes are welcoming the pope's planned visit to Lebanon. The poll indicated that over a million Lebanese would participate in the mass sermon which will be held at Martyrs Square in Beirut. The poll also indicated that there is a Christian and Muslim consensus on the visit. 86.17 per cent see that Lebanon is the main beneficiary of the visit, and 70.17 per cent linked the visit to the peace in the region.

Municipal Elections

Lebanon's parliament is going to discuss two controversial points of the municipal law on April 2 and 3. The first is the separation between parliament seat and municipal head post, and the second is issue of electing the municipal head by the elected members of the council and not directly by voters. Member of parliament are still split over this possibility. Some of the present MPs are either heads of municipal councils or members, including deputies Hussein Husseini, George Deeb Niemeh, Habib Hakim, and Mohammed Youssef Baydoun. MP Mansour el Boun, who is willing to run for the head of Jounieh municipal council, would give up his parliament seat in case the law banned having the two posts together.

- Speaking yesterday on the municipal election law, Member of Parliament Butros Harb said the new law would undermine the functions of the local authority and cause dispute in every town and village. He contended that by electing a local authority, an administrative decentralized system is maintained without the central government having any influence or role. He named the errors in the new proposed municipal law saying it takes out the authority from the municipal council and pass it on to the governor. He also asserted that it also deprive the councils from financial resources as well as giving the government the right to appoint quarter of the council.

News In Brief

- At its weekly session on Wednesday, the Lebanese Council of Ministers will discuss 41 ordinary items. The major issues include the definition of educational programmes for pre-university stage; importing diesel engine cars; grants to various ministries; appointments and dismissals of some civil servants; delegations to conferences abroad.

-Lebanese official asked parties who demand Samir Geagea be moved from his present jail to another if they could be responsible for his safety if that move takes place.

- 276 foreigners were arrested in the past ten days by Lebanese security men for illegal entry to Lebanon.

- Minister of the Environment Akram Shehayeb said that the environmental problems in Lebanon are outnumbered and most of them are our the result of our own mistakes. He contended that the average of air pollution is three times than the international  industrial and solid wastes as well as the sewerage.

- The residents of Koura are warning of the dangers of quarries which will nibble their mountain and coast, including the archeological castles sites. Deputy Istifan Dueihi warned of the pollution in Zghorta portable water. Deputy Mohammed Ali el Meiss rejected the proposal on importing rocks by saying that Lebanon's reconstruction urgently needs rocks but we should relocate quarries not import rocks.

-Minister of Finance Fouad Seniora, back in Beirut after a visit to Germany, said he signed in Germany an agreement on encouraging investments. He also announced that he inquired into the possibility of a Dutch Mark bonds issue for Lebanon.

-Minister of Transport Omar Miskawi, asked about rumors on a cabinet change, said in a democratic country a change would take place from time to time but he cannot confirm or deny the change.

-Deputy Issam Fares, commenting on tapping phone calls, asserted that tapping contradicts with freedom of the citizens but in Akkar, luckily, there is no such problem because the region did not have proper telephone installations.

-Deputy Ali Osseiran said tapping phone calls is not new in Lebanon and tapping dates back to 1966 when Lebanon was under military security. He added that tapping in modern countries is within limits endorsed by legislature but in Lebanon, where no state of law exist, independent judiciary is not assigned this task.

- South deputy Hassan Alawih appealed to Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz, UN Secretary-General, and UNIFIL command to halt the dismissal of Lebanese staff working with UNIFIL. He said dismissal at this hard time, with some of them serving for over 15 years, will create unemployment and misery.

- South deputy Mohammed Baydoun urged the people in Lebanon to cooperate in the forthcoming municipal elections, saying it is not time to demonstrate each clan's and family's influence and superiority.

- Saturday, Palestinian camps in Lebanon staged strikes in various camps in protest for the Israeli new settlement at Jebel Abu Ghneim in East Jerusalem.

- Muslim Shiite Higher Council's head Imam Mohammed Mehdi Shamseddine, in a cable to Islamabad summit, said the Muslim-Christian partnership on Jerusalem should be materialized into a common project that would liberate the holy town, maintain its Arab identity and openness to all religions.

- Speaking to a conference of agricultural unions, Minister of Agriculture Shawki Fakhoury announced that the government's latest decisions to protect agriculture product, increasing the ministry's budget by fifty per cent for the first time, subsidizing loans to the sector, and support to researches, all are indicating that the agriculture sector in Lebanon is back on trail.

- Hamra shopowners hosted the Minister of Economy Yassin Jaber at a reception held in Beirut.

- The Egyptian potato exports to Europe declined by 60 per cent, according to Egyptian media.

- A seminar on land mines, bombs, and grenades said Lebanon was classified among category three of countries who still have these weapons. Category three include countries with over 100 thousand planted land mine.


-The Nijmeh soccer team relieved fans yesterday after beating its traditional rival Al Ansar 2-0 at Tripoli stadium. The score continued unchanged since the first match. This is Nijmeh 4th victory of Lebanon's Cup compensating the championship lost to Ansar. It is also Nijmeh's 7th victory for Lebanon's cup since it had been established in 1937. Nijmeh captain Abdel Hamid Karaki received the cup from Football Federation President Nabil Raii, as well as the Cup's sponsor, Pepsi. Eight teams had consecutively won Lebanon's cup since 1937, including Ansar for 7 times, Nahda and Nijmeh each four times, Hilmi sport, Shabiba Mazraa, Homentmen and Safa each two times, and Burj for one time.

- The Lebanese army's soccer team defeated Ansar at a friendly match held Saturday at Safa stadium in Beirut.

- Safa club will organize the ADHA cup which will be held at its stadium from the 27th of March to the 4th of May. The Adha tournament include 8 first rank teams including Homenmen, Hikmeh, Safa, Nijmeh, Ansar, Homentmen, Burj, and Ikhaa Aley.

-Mont La Salle international school tournament, with the participation of all Frere schools in the Middle East, began yesterday. Jordan and Lebanon schools' teams were on top of teams.

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