- Two Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli troops in the West Bank, and two others were killed near a Jewish settlement in Gaza strip yesterday. The two attacks are a further complication to the already fragile peace process.
- According to some sources in Jerusalem, Netanyahu has changed his mind and is now willing to meet with President Clinton early next week.
- After his talks with King Hussein, Clinton announced that the revival of the peace process is contingent on denouncing terrorism.
- "Twin attacks are proof that the terror campaign continues and the Palestinian authority must fight terrorism now. If peace is to survive, it must do so immediately," Netanyahu alleged.
- Jewish settlers demand that Israeli troops invade Palestinian controlled areas to "uproot terror." The possibility of some a much move would certainly trigger full scale conflict.
-Washington urged "Damascus and other capitals in the region not to establish military relations with Iran which is a negative force in the region," the US State Department contended.
-French sources expressed concern that the south Lebanon cease-fire monitoring group might not be able to carry on its mission of protecting civilians in May and June if the Middle East peace process freeze continues. The sources added that Yasser Arafat is in danger and he should be backed by all means because the future of peace is linked to his survival.
The last minute's 14 points proposal for amending the local and municipal elections draft law, surprisingly sent yesterday by the government to the parliament, 24 hours before a parliament general session starts this morning, is a top story today.
The sudden move raises the possibility of a showdown in the house between the legislative and executive bodies as well as threatening to bring about postponement of the forthcoming elections. One of the additional proposed amendments suggested that some villages of the displaced in the Mount Lebanon are to be added to villages and towns under Israeli occupation or adjacent to the security zone, allowing the appointment of the municipal councils' heads and deputy heads not through elections.
Deputy speaker Elie Firzli predicts that the sudden move might indicates that elections will not take place. The three top officials are maintaining different views on certain aspects of the law. Hrawi-Hariri meeting yesterday was inconclusive, same with the meeting between Hariri and Speaker Berri. The three did not make any comment, but circles close to Berri and Hariri agreed that the present situation is delicate. They traded accusations on who really wants the elections to take place or not, disagreeing on how presidents of the municipalities should be chosen, and disagreeing on whether to allow MPs to run for municipal posts, even the parliament itself is divided over that point.
Before the surprise proposals, Minister of the Interior Michel Murr announced that the deadline to apply for the electoral cards is April 15. He said 1.5 million applications for cards have been received so far, and already 400 thousand cards have been delivered to the applicants. The deadline for citizens and Mukhtars to enter corrections on the voters lists is extended by only 8 days from April 2 to 10, and the already corrected lists are to be sent to the Ministry of Interior between April 20 and 25 instead of 10 to 15.
News analysts contend that requesting a Baccalaureate certificate, for the candidates running for the head of municipality post, would diminish their number to half for that, the house MPs are not in favour. The analysts assert that the principle of appointing the municipal heads, their deputies, and the Mukhtars in displaced villages and villages under the Israeli occupation would include some 60-70 municipal heads, and 170 Mukhtars.
After their meeting yesterday, the National Parliamentary Meeting, including leading opposition figures such as former Premiers Hoss, Karami, former Speaker Husseini, and Mps Nassib Lahoud, Boutros Harb and Mohammed Yussef Baydoun, concluded that they are in favour of postponing the elections, but disagree on MPs running for municipal posts.
Following a lull in south Lebanon, the Islamic resistance renewed its operations against Israel and the SLA forces.
- A nine year old girl lost her hand yesterday in an explosive charge disguised as a doll at the front door of her house in the Deir Amis village 3 Kms from the security zone.
-Yesterday, one SLA man killed and five others wounded in an attack by the Islamic resistance against SLA patrol in Teir Harfa in the western sector at 10:30 a.m. The resistance fired rockets at the patrol destroying an SLA armored personnel carrier. The new casualties raised to 2 the number of SLA killed and to 11 the number of wounded, in attacks this year.
The SLA claimed the rockets were fired from Majdel Zoun, located inside the Nepalese battalion zone of the UNIFIL. UN denied the claim and said the Nepalese post did not observe any outgoing firing. The Israeli and SLA artillery fired in retaliation outskirts of Nabatieh Fawka, Ali Taher, Kfarrumane, Nabatieh market and Kfartabnit. Two houses were damaged but no casualties reported. Meanwhile, two Israeli helicopters combed the area.
AMAL movement displayed yesterday to reporters an SLA agent who was arrested Saturday by the group inside the security zone. Ibrahim Mahmoud Rammal has confessed to working for the SLA since 1986. He was disguised as shepherd and his task was to inform on the movement of the resistance. He said he tried to flee away from the security zone but was afraid for his family who might be punished by Israel and the SLA. He called all those collaborating with Israel and the SLA to leave the zone, because they serve as sandbags.
-Three Lebanese, suffering from wounds in last April's aggression, left to the USA Boston for hospitalization sponsored and financed by the American Task Force group.
-An updated schedule of the Pope visit to Lebanon said the sermon will be held at the Beirut port area, near a Lebanese army naval base and not in the martyrs square. His pontiff will receive during the visit a Greek Orthodox memo calling for one unified Easter for both western and eastern churches, suggesting the second Sunday of April each year as a date.
- US congressman Nick Rahall and a delegation representing the Arab Americans NAAA met with Prime Minister Hariri yesterday. Rahall said the US travel ban on Lebanon was "so close to end, but there was not the necessary courage for that stroke of Christopher's pen." The delegation is in Beirut in a fact finding mission and to assess the US relations with the Gulf countries, Lebanon and Syria.
- At a press conference yesterday, Minister of the Interior Michel Murr said the judicial and security authority are to take the necessary measures against those who gave declarations threatening peace and national unity, which also hint at one the world's most important religious authorities, such as the declarations by Sheikh saeed Shaaban. He said the security forces have a list of those who reportedly staged armed manifestations last week, and who will stand before the military prosecution for carrying arms in public. Asked about tapping telephones namely the cellular calls, Murr said tapping ordinary telephones is prohibited by law unless a permission is given by the general prosecution. As to the cellular phones, he said his ministry has no evidence of an existing tapping, and so far, no security agency is tapping a specific cellular telephone. He said neither the state nor the security agencies have such a machine to tap cellulars and there is no intention to do so.
-The National Parliamentary Meeting said yesterday the silence maintained by Lebanon's officials on tapping is casting doubts and confirms the suspicion that phone calls are tapped. Their sources said the officials do not deny there is tapping and they jokingly speak on the obtained information they have from tapping. The meeting said it will go on fighting tapping until the end.
- An Egyptian national is to be hanged this morning for killing two Lebanese aged including Nassib Maalouf and his wife at Kfarakab. The execution today will rise up to 12 the number of executions since 1994. It is the fourth execution at Roumieh prison in 17 days. Ex president Charles Helou noticed that 45 persons were executed last year in the USA out of a total 3,200 sentenced to death. As to Lebanon, Helou said a prominent lawyer told him that the official gazette published frequently names of those who were granted pardon and it is a big number.
-Minister Walid Jumblat, commenting on a recent lecture by the President of St. Joseph University Selim Ebbou, said the man is preaching of a new civil war and damage the heritage of the Jesuits human and academic achievements. Jumblat said the danger behind Ebbou's comments is the existence of isolationist feeling in some universities and political societies, which see Syrian political and military presence an occupation on the account of western influence, privileges and traditional confessional protections.
- Hizbullah continue to display a platform on coordination between the parties and forces aimed at preserving the nation's identity. A Hizbullah delegation toured on Baath, AMAL, Nasserties, and communist party leaderships. Hizbullah MP Ibrahim Amin Sayed said during a protest staged by Hizbullah in Beirut that the Arab and Muslim people knowledge and thinking now is different than before, and its hostility to USA and Israel is more than before. He added that realizing the fact of the present Arab society is through reading the people and resistance not the Arab regimes which had been serving as agents. Sayed said all of Jerusalem should be the capital of the Palestine.
- AL Ahbash, in a media biography, are described as a group which grew very fast but with a strained address. The group is at odds with Dar Al Fatwa, Makassed, and the Islamic Society group. The group early start was at Burj Abi Haidar and grew up later to introduce itself as a contestant of the more deep rooted trends such as the Muslim Brethren and the Wahabists. Sheikh Abdallah el Hirari, the guide and mentor, came to Beirut in the early sixties and resided at Tarik Jadida, the most populated Sunni area, but by the time he gained fame and support in the Muslim Sunni community.
- At a meeting under Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the Muslim Sunni religious council denounced the state of fragmentation among Muslims, the remarks given against the Dar el Fatwa, and called the Lebanese to maintain solidarity to foil schemes aimed at their unity. The council considered the government decision to annul the obligatory religious teaching as tantamount to annul the entire religious teachings in the public schools.
- MP Kabalan Issa el Khoury questioned the government if it laid down a criteria on those wishing to enter Casino Du Liban, and whether the Finance Ministry or the casino administration confirm the declarations presented by the citizens before entering the casino, and what legality is for the money dealers who offer loans and operate freely, and why the state revenues are diminishing as a result of such practices.
- Thefts and robbery record is rising up high in various regions in Lebanon, a media report indicates today.
- France's decorated Lebanese Physician Ara Hovancian in gratitude to his researches which would be a first step to resolve the SIDA puzzle.
-A huge difference in the performance of Beirut airport and seaport will take place as of June 1, Chairman of the Lebanese Industrialists Association said . Mr. Jacques Sarraf said after a meeting with finance and custom officials yesterday that they discussed ways to improve competitiveness of ports, border crossings and the airport. He said they examined ways to reduce costs for importers and shipping companies.
- Minister of the Environment Akram Shehayeb told a delegation from Koura that he will not permit a quarry in Metrit and what harms Koura harms Aley and Mukhtara.
- German delegation including deputies for the minister of economy, transport, and technology of the Bavaria state including 18 prominent industrialist, banker, and expert, arrived to Beirut. They met today with Prime Minister Hariri.
- Egyptian negotiator on Mediterranean-European partnership talks arrived in Beirut in a 24 hour visit to discuss establishing a free trade European and Mediterranean Zone.
- Lebanon's Minister of Transport Omar Miskawi inaugurated in Beirut the 29th conference of the M.E railways directors. Delegations representing Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Azerbaijan are attending the conference.
- Travel and tourism international fair is to be opened tomorrow in Beirut with 16 American, European and Arab participants.
- Lebanon's Tennis Federation announced that preparations at Kahraba stadium is at their final stages prior to a match between Lebanon and Thailand in the semi finals of Asia-Oceana Davis cup which will take place between 4 to 6 of April.
- Adha football cup : Today's matches between Nijmeh and Hikmeh at Safa stadium.
[ Lebanon.com Weekly Business Reports ]
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