News from Beirut June 21  1997 ...Search


-"I asked the French defense minister to use their influence on the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army to fight terrorism and search for ways in which we can reduce the violence and find solutions for Lebanon", Israel's defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai speaking to Israel's radio. Mordechai, who was in Paris recently, said "I emphasized to my French counterpart that Israel has no interest in one centimeter of the Lebanese land".

-"The defense minister asked France's help, as one of those with influence in Lebanon, in order to reach an agreement that will ensure the security of the residents of north Israel. Without such an agreement, Israel will not pull out", Israeli spokesman of the defense ministry told agencies.

-The two remarks were regarded in Beirut as a new hint that the Jewish state may be contemplating an end to the occupied zone in south Lebanon. France, working to act as a counterbalance to the US thinks of a greater role as a peace broker in the ME, denied any initiative to facilitate the pull out of Israel's army from south Lebanon. Assistant spokesman of the French foreign ministry yesterday, commenting on the Israeli defense minister declaration, affirmed that France's defense minister renewed, during his meeting with the Israeli counterpart June 19 in Paris, the French firm stand which is based on the comprehensive solution of both the Lebanese and Syrian peace tracks with Israel, and in accordance to UN resolutions. especially the 425. Another French official, name withheld upon his request, denied too any French initiative, and said he was astonished of the text of the report dispatched by the Israeli media, and which mentioned the word "initiative". The French unnamed official said in case of an initiative it would be diplomatic, meaning that it should not be discussed on the level of defense ministers. The official wondered putting the meeting of two defense ministers under such exciting spotlight. A news dispatch from Paris, published in Beirut today, pointed out that Israel's defense minister's meeting with his French counterpart was for little more than an hour, continued at working launch for another hour, in presence of the two ministers aides. The dispatch pointed out too that president Chirac was at a meeting with Egyptian president Mubarak accompanied by his foreign minister.

-Israel has leaked months ago news over a French initiative aimed to ensure Israeli forces unilateral pull out from south Lebanon, but Paris rushed to deny the news and announced it rejects the proposal "Lebanon's First". The political analysts in Beirut said Mordechai's announcement came hours before Denver-Colorado summit of the G-7 and Russia, and which is expected to issue a statement that urges the M.E. parties concerned of peace to continue the peace talks. The announcement came too after Amsterdam summit and the European appeal that has emphasized the right of the Palestinians of an independent political . The analysts said perhaps Israel is seeking to soften tone of the G-7 summit statement, giving a signal of good will to resolve Lebanon's deadlock and revive "Lebanon's First" proposal.

Meanwhile, Lebanese officials received Mordechai's remark with caution and doubt, especially after the short time ago "Lebanon's First" proposal that did not live long.

Jezzine -SLA Warning

-"All villages in Lebanese regions, coastal and mountainous, are within the range of the SLA artillery. We hope we won't have to stage offensive operations in the future", SLA commander Antoine Lahd said. Lahd, who visited scene of the Wednesday bombings and attended memorial of the SLA killed men, accused the government security forces based in south Lebanon of helping Hizbullah planting roadside bombs. "If the Lebanese security forces continue to carry out such operations, we may have to strike at them and deal with them in the same way", Lahd said. Security sources scoffed Lahd's threats. They said shelling towns as Tyre and Nabatieh or else would be sanctioned by Israel. They said there is no way Israel gives a green light to the SLA to attack south just because some SLA members have been killed.

-The new development this time is that Israel try to repeat the slogan of phased withdrawal from south, even through inspiration not fact, and at a time the Jezzine area is living a boiling situation amid the spate of explosions. Jezzine people are aware that the situation in the area would be facing political and military maneuvering that will add to their sufferings. Jezzine MPs, mayors and municipalities, clubs and unions, are expected to meet today president Hrawi at Baabda palace and brief him on the situation. They called on Patriarch Sfair yesterday and asked the Vatican to dispatch a special envoy to Jezzine area, same as the former envoy Mer Bauhigaz, who died two years ago without naming a successor to him. Jezzine delegation who met Hizbullah secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah were told they should oust agents of the Israeli enemy, so that they won't remain a reason of further problems and troubles to the residents of the area. Nasrallah assured that the resistance is aimed at the occupation and not the civilians, and that the occupation is the root problem. Jezzine people called on those hailing from the town and living in Beirut to attend a mass tomorrow at 10.00 a.m. at Mar Roukoz church in Dekwaneh.

-Jezzine differs in certain respects from the other parts of the occupied zone. The local SLA includes many ex-members of the Lebanese forces, who left Beirut after the end of the war. Security sources in Beirut said Israel is perhaps contemplating to redeploy from the dogleg west of Jezzine, which includes villages such as Kfarfalous, Roum, Bkassine, as part of a phased withdrawal from Jezzine to the Litani river. The Jezzine area is the furthest part of the security zone and is hard to supply. Morale are low among the SLA in Jezzine, and they are not an organized force, making them a soft target for the Hizbullah. In case of an Israeli withdrawal, a security vacuum will prevail which might result in retaliatory actions against the SLA. The Lebanese army is capable to deploy in Jezzine but it needs a certain coordination to prevent trouble from flaring up.

EU Envoy Moratinos

The European Union EU's special regional envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos did not convey to Lebanese officials he met in Beirut any specific proposals on how to unblock the M.E. peace talks. Moratinos, who said he is now known to the officials and the public including spelling his name correctly, said the peace process is at present at the very serious stage since the Madrid conference. The Lebanese officials told him that he and the EU should move ahead from the exploratory role they maintain now to submit a specific proposal, so that the EU can impose itself as a pressing force, and in case Israel does not respond, the EU should take a firm stand toward it. EU's foreign ministers meeting at Luxembourg on Wednesday would authorize him take practical stand, he said. Moratinos admitted in Beirut that he was carrying no new initiative to break the 15 months deadlock ands stalemate. He said Europe has strategic interests in the region and could stand idle and watch the situation deteriorate without doing anything. Moratinos, who is on third diplomatic shuttle this year, and 7th month acting as peace envoy, denied he is carrying any message from Israeli officials, and said "the important thing is that the European appeal for peace in the region be adopted. He met foreign minister fares Boueiz, and prime minister Hariri. He will visit today the Palestinian camp of Ain Helwe.”

-At a lecture at the St. Joseph university in Beirut, Moratinos said the peace process needs an electric shock. He called the US to drop its fear of the EU sharing the challenges. He said his visit to Israel, Syria, and Lebanon allowed him to make new ideas. Moratinos said the Israelis are very aware since some time of the situation in south Lebanon and wish to go out of that situation.

Lebanon-Saudi Arabia- Crown Prince's Visit

-Saudi crown prince Abdullah bin Abdel-Aziz visit's schedule to Beirut has been extended to continue Thursday through Saturday with one additional day, after a phone call by prime minister Hariri to the Saudi heir. Hariri canceled plans to travel to Switzerland to attend an international business conference next week as a result. The Saudi heir will stay at Hariri palace in Beirut, and be hosted at banquets in his honor by the president, speaker and the prime minister. Speaker Nabih Berri received yesterday ambassador of Saudi Arabia and discussed arrangement of the visit.

-Prime minister Hariri is to travel to Morocco first of July in a three day official visit upon an invitation from his Moroccan counterpart. He is expected to boost trade relations which should match with the good political relation. Hariri will meet King Hassan of Morocco during the visit.

Lebanon-US, The Travel Ban

-US president's adviser on national security said president Clinton and French president Chirac discussed yesterday, at a side meeting at Denver summit, the peace process in the region and exchanged views over ways of generating it. The adviser quoted president Clinton saying he is working hard in that direction, to urge Yasser Arafat to resume security cooperation, and both sides commit to the measures of rebuilding confidence and resumption of peace talks. The adviser said president Chirac has raised the point of the US travel ban on Lebanon. Clinton answered saying that issue is up to the secretary of state Mrs Albright, who put it on review and will shortly take a decision on it.

News In Brief

-France appointed a new representative at the five nation cease-fire monitoring committee. French and American sources are reserved on the change of the monitoring panel work on ground, and on the impacts of the French socialists take over on the panel. Damascus has considered the French rulings on files that were examined by the panel as balanced and subjective.

-The non-governmental US council of national security held talks in Beirut with president Elias Hrawi, prime minister Hariri, and Patriarch Sfair. The council conveyed its opposition to the US support to Israel. Mr. Hariri told the council that if peace comes we welcome it, and if not, we shall be staying here.

-The Lebanese satellite TV broadcasts, especially the LBC and Future, have swept aside their competitors in the ratings. Lebanese TV and the attractive hosts of the shows are favored in the Arab peninsula. The Gulf people, from the impoverished Yemen mountains to the deserts of the oil-rich Saudi Arabia, turned to Lebanese TV's attractive presenters. "People in the Saudi Arabia have given up watching anything but the Lebanese channels", a Lebanese businessman in the kingdom said. Not everybody is happy, as prayer leaders in the mosques of Sanaa denounce the presenters for not covering up. The Lebanese LBC is rated first top of the satellite TV ratings.

-Parliament mini committee of two men on phone tapping said it won't black out the case and will go on investigating the case. No law in Lebanon regulates tapping and the ministry of justice is on verge of submitting one shortly.

-Bkerke said it is of same distance from all those going to run for the Maronite League's board.

-Sources in the Gen. Michel Aoun loyalist national free trend denied that the general has been denied an entry visa to the US. The national free trend said Gen. Aoun is to stay for one month in the US, where the Lebanese-American organizations arranged several meetings for him in various US states.

-From extreme left to extreme right, the row over renaming the sport city in Beirut is widened. The Lebanese government would reconsider its renaming amid the broad reactions. The Lebanese government decided the name "Beirut Sport City", but organizers of the Arab 8th sport games said name which will be adopted will include names of Chamoun, Hrawi, and Hariri. President Elias Hrawi is said to have refused changing the original name, because it is not fair to change the name with every new president's term, and perhaps that will be practiced later on his present term. Groups and parties that rejected the renaming include Chuf MP George Dib Neemeh ,Kataeb deputy president Karim Pakradouni, and others. The parliamentary An Nidal bloc under Walid Jumblat rejected the renaming , and said if names of all the streets, squares, and else should be renamed, then historians and science credible people should carry it on not people of political affiliations. The bloc said there should not be elimination of any historical site such as the Camille Chamoun Sport City.

-NLP leader Douri Chamoun called prime minister Hariri to take the road of great people and make them guide him. In the sharpest ever attack against the prime minister, Chamoun described Hariri plans suspicious, and refused his monopoly of the country's decision making. He rejected renaming the sport city and the change of its original name. He accused Hariri of instigating the people and trading with sensitivities that pave the ground for strife. Douri Chamoun said he sold out the Saadiyat palace to Hariri because he did not steel or loot and because he was in need for money.

-Political analysts said today the hunger revolution called by Sheikh Subhi Tufeili is perhaps to settle accounts with Hizbullah under the banner of hunger. The analysts argued if Tehran will give him backing and consequently help Hizbullah split. It said too that Damascus is not with a Tufeili move that threatens the stability though it showed forgiveness on his remarks against Rafic Hariri and other state officials.

-Opposition figure Albert Mukheiber said Jezzine poeple's anger and protest are sufficient for the government to quit and go.

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