News from Beirut July 17 1997 ...Search

South Lebanon- The Turmoil

-Last year April's understanding was strongly shaken by consecutive developments in south Lebanon. Officials here held intensive contacts with influential countries such as US and France to avert a large scale deterioration of the situation. House speaker Nabih Berri yesterday hinted, after a meeting with president Elias Hrawi, that Lebanon would call on the UN Security Council to avert what he called "Israel's turning our summer to an exodus". He said the monitoring panel's role should be generated and not only sufficiently put down a record. Berri said "Either the committee to undertake the role of the Security Council which can condemn Israel's aggressions, or Lebanon to call on the Security Council or the General Assembly, without ignoring the monitoring committee's role, and possibly to depend on its reports". The speaker's circles said the situation in south Lebanon is becoming unfamiliar and perhaps it is signaling serious coming development. It said the Israeli aggressions target was to inflict as much possible harm to civilians.

-The five nations cease-fire monitoring committee yesterday held one of its most important meetings since its formation last August. The 14th meeting at Naqoura H.Q. of the UNIFIL examined four complaints, two by each of Lebanon and Israel. Lebanon complaint centered on the Israeli killing of three civilians at the villages of Kassir, Berti and Adchit. Israel's complaints centered on Katyusha rockets that fell north of Israel and which wounded two civilians inside the security zone. Before the committee meeting which continued until late night, two more barrages of 10 Katyusha rockets were fired. Some rockets fell at West Galilee but caused no casualties no damages.

-French ambassador in Lebanon yesterday declared that his government is worried of casualties among civilians, with more civilian victims in south Lebanon. He said it was observed during past days that the civilians were again targeted. The ambassador said his country initiated in April last year, after Qana massacre, the understanding that aimed to protect civilians. He said his country is very much concerned of what pose civilians safety to danger and work effectively within the monitoring panel. Asked why the monitoring committee looks to be ineffective, he said "The committee met every time Lebanon's government filed a complaint, and it is holding a meeting today to examine latest actions against civilians, but in such situation there is something worrying".

-A dispatch from Paris today said president Jacques Chirac at a meeting with president Clinton proposed adoption of the same security formula enforced in Bosnia and enforcing it in south Lebanon. The proposed formula stipulated the formation of a multi nation force including France, US, UK, and other states that are specified at later stage, to deploy it in south Lebanon and Golan heights. President Chirac set the condition that in order to carry on the plan, the peace talks between Israel and Arabs, on all peace tracks, to be resumed. France has reiterated it is not in favor of dissociating the solution of south Lebanon from that of the Golan, and it is keen to see both Syrian and Lebanese peace tracks unseparated. France too see that the UN resolution 425 is the only authority of the solution in south Lebanon. President Clinton, on his part, was trying to persuade president Chirac to support an Israeli proposal that was presented earlier, and which aimed to form and deploy a multi nation force in south Lebanon, under the command of France with a participation of the Lebanese army.

-Political analysts today said the military escalation in south Lebanon is one of the repercussion of the government decision to reopen Kfarfalous crossing which help Jezzine area ease down the Israeli pressure, furthermore, the escalation is a repercussion of Hizbullah and SLA clashes. The analysts also said the Israeli mounting shelling against areas in south aimed to boost negotiation position of SLA commander Antoine Lahd on the reopening of the crossing. Lahd seems to be hopeful and determined to have a pay off in exchange of the reopening. The analyst said that Jezzine people refused demands of Israeli Gen. Levine, including Jezzine youngsters to recruit in SLA and man checkpoints. It said the SLA commander wanted, among other terms, that Hizbullah halt its operations against the SLA, and to negotiate him in person over merging his SLA men in the state institutes same as other Lebanese militias. The final conclusion is that the reopening of Kfarfalous crossing is not likely to take place smoothly.

-Lebanon’s foreign minister Fares Boueiz quoted by head of Lebanon Journalists Association saying the Israeli escalation became systematic and daily. Boueiz said confronting that escalation should be through nonclassical ways that were exercised before, and the government will take some measures on that and announce it on time.

-A leading daily's report said Israeli premier Netanyahu, next to his "Lebanon's First" proposal is now reintroducing it under different title but with same merit, linking Lebanon's reconstruction to stability. Stability, in Netanyahu's concept is freezing Hizbullah military activities and curbing resistance operations. The report predicted that Israel-Syria peace track will remain blocked until Sept 1998, but Netanyahu is hopeful to dissociate Lebanon's track from the Syrian one. The Israeli proposal that was presented by its defense minister Mordechai, during his visit to France, was based on phased withdrawals. The first withdrawal is from Jezzine area with a three months testing period for stability. The next phases proposed to be according to a timetable including withdrawals every three months. The total withdrawal would be competed by mid 1998, when the resistance operations are halted under a multi nation force, together with the UN peace force, and the Lebanese army. The Syrians argue that since the Golan and south are one front, why the withdrawal is to be only from south. The report said Netanyahu, with his new concept to link reconstruction to stability, aimed to dissociate Lebanese and Syrian tracks, strip Damascus from the Hizbullah card, and corners Syria in the M.E. final peace settlement.


-President Elias Hrawi yesterday's meetings with his visitors dealt with wide range of topics and files. House speaker discussed the possibility of a parliament extra session that starts now until 15th Oct. Press reports said Mr. Hariri would accept such a session in a bid to pass over loan agreements.

-Prime minister Rafic Hariri yesterday ended his official visit to Spain. Joint statement said the two parties signed an aviation agreement, another agreement on guaranteeing investments, and a financial agreement including a long term $105mn loan. The two sides agreed on a meeting in Lebanon end of this year for the Lebanese Spanish joint committee.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, speaking to Lebanese Journalists Association headed by Melhem Karam, quoted saying that issues raised at the council of ministers, including the name of the Sports City, the internal security forces ISF, and election law, were provocative and aimed to blow up the internal situation. In an indirect reaction to premier's Hariri, Boueiz said "instead of saying the country is going ahead, let us say where it is going to, and warn it is going down". About banning entry of the Iraqi athletes, Boueiz said the issue could have been resolved three days before it took place, when a formula proposed by secretary general of the Arab League accepted. The proposal suggested that the Iraqi athletes to participate in the opening ceremony but not to participate in games. On a meeting with US secretary Mrs.. Albright, Boueiz said she has to come to the Arab world and meet every foreign minister to examine the situation on ground, because the US is the peace sponsor. Boueiz said meeting Mrs. Albright should not be begged and we won't ask an appointment to go and see her. He said the US veto against all resolutions that condemned Israel was regretful, and the US lost the role of neutral sponsor for the sake of Israel. Press reports today said Mr. Boueiz is dismayed of prime minister Hariri's ignorance of the foreign ministry when he instructed not to allow Iraqi athletes to enter the country.

-Patriarch Sfair yesterday expressed deep worry over the dangers looming on Jezzine. He headed a meeting of deputy patriarchs and discussed church, social and national topics. He met a delegation representing France - Caritas who were visiting Caritas-Lebanon's medical centers.

-Ambassador of Egypt said consultations are underway to prepare for bilateral agreements with his country that will be signed during Egypt's prime minister's visit to Lebanon. The ambassador Adel Khodari said one the projects is to establish a free zone with phased 10 year duty free. He stated that tourism from Lebanon to Egypt increased by 19 per cent and that Lebanese investments in Egypt is remarkably growing bigger.

-Member of the parliament mini committee on telephone tapping MP Sami Khatib said the committee will ask assistance of local and foreign experts in order to present a real and comprehensive report on the issue to the parliament. He said the house speaker agreed to this assistance and consequently the committee's mission will take few weeks more. Press reports said the committee's inquiry is so far inconclusive.

-Kataeb party statement yesterday said the conference in Paris under former president Amin Gemayel of the "Kataeb immigrants" has nothing to do with the party in Beirut. The statement said the conference has no right to take political and administrative decisions. The statement added that Kataeb overseas are attached to the party central leadership and not attached to any other person, regardless of his capacity.

-Kataeb-opposition assailed the extension of municipal and mayoral councils saying it is a negative signal of the coming course of events .The opposition criticized the policy toward the displaced that became subject of political stagnation, saying spending no money on the return of the displaced would keep this national major issue unresolved, consequently destroy foundations of the national unity, national conciliation, and lead definitely to demographical segregation.

-NLP leader Douri Chamoun yesterday returned from a visit to Australia and New Zealand. He will brief the party meeting tomorrow on the outcome of the visit.

-Head of the Maronite League Pierre Helou, after a visit to the Maronite Council, said no real peace without real social peace starting with the displaced issue, additional to the files of naturalization and Palestinian implantation. He proposed formation of a joint emergency committee of the two Maronite bodies to cooperate and stand for the national and social present situation.

-The Lebanese communist party general conference is scheduled end of this year and the political platform is to be distributed on September. The party conference will see to wide range issues, and ideological viewpoints, also to discuss changing the name of the party or not.

-Lebanese army military parade is to take place at Fayadieh garrison on 1st of August marking the army day. Three presidents are to attend the ceremony with an address by president Hrawi.

-Brazil Parliament's speaker and Lebanese descent Michel Tamer is due to arrive to Lebanon next week heading a parliament delegation upon an invitation from his Lebanese counterpart.

-MP Kabalan Issa el Khoury after a visit to president Hrawi said he rejected canceling the post of gendarmerie commander, allocated to the Maronites. Press reports said premier Hariri's bid to restructure the ISF aimed at monopolizing the security agencies.

-MP Tammam Salam after a visit to president Hrawi criticized Hariri government's policy and said "deficit, taxes and poverty are going ahead too ".

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili civil disobedience now moved to the southern suburbs of Beirut and shortly is to transfer to Akkar. Tufeili said "We are capable of crippling the government and harm the authority". He also said he is planning for a new system and constitutes a pressure card.

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