News from Beirut July 18 1997 ...Search

Kfar Falous Crossing's Reopening, A Testing Or Experimental Phase

-Reopening Kfar Falous crossing is now a top story. Among outnumbered files and issues that president Elias Hrawi discussed with his visitors the reopening of Jezzine-Sidon short way was a major dominant topic. Commander of Israeli backed South Lebanon's Army SLA Antoine Lahd announcement yesterday was regarded flexible and a departure from his usual defiance of the Beirut government. "We will not stand in the way of the implementation of this measure. The reopening of the crossing is not going to solve the Jezzine problem but may lessen the plight of the citizens", Lahd said. In a statement aired by the SLA's mouthpiece radio station the Voice of South Lebanon Lahd conceded that he would clear the 4 km section of road under his militia, between Kfar Falous and Sfarai, but warned he would immediately block the crossing and bombard the area "without any prior warning" if it was used by the resistance. He demanded the Lebanese army not to be deployed between Ain al-Mir and Kfar Falous, leaving the road as part of the no man's land between Lebanon and the Israeli occupied security zone. Lahd insisted there should be no discrimination about who is allowed to travel between Jezzine and Sidon. He also welcomed the reopening of the crossing saying "It is sufficient for the Lebanese state to announce that passing through the crossing is allowed and the SLA will agree in turn to the measure".

-This is on surface but in fact there are doubts that the move would turn into trading balls only without actual reopening. Lahd has recently returned back from Paris which reiterated its concern over Jezzine. Lahd's terms have been regarded as an attempt to boost his negotiating position.

There are speculations too that the current phase would be experimental or perhaps testing of the real wills on the reopening. In a further significant measure, Lahd yesterday ordered release of five people from Jezzine accused of collaborating with Lebanese official security agencies.

-Since 1985, the Jezzine region has been linked to the rest of Lebanon by only one crossing point at Bater in Chuf north of the town. Lahd's move came days after his militia shelled Lebanese army units who have been clearing the area of land mines. There were no casualties among the army men, but the government in Beirut decided to halt the work on the road until a solution reached. So far, only 1 km of the 4 km road between Ain al-Mir and Kfar Falous was cleared.

-Hours after Antoine Lahd's announcement, president Elias Hrawi, speaking to Lebanese Journalists Union's delegation said the Lebanese army is going ahead to reopen the crossing, but he expressed fear of targeting the road to prevent its reopening. Furthermore, he said "the Israelis are increasing their contacts with some Lebanese factions preparing for a certain atmosphere". Hrawi was also speaking over a meeting that was held between an Israeli general and one of the Israeli embassy staff members in Paris with Gen. Michel Aoun. He also mentioned former president Amin Gemayel rush to extend condolence after the death of Israeli former premier Issac Rabin, and Gemayel's meeting with former premier Shimon Peres. Hrawi said Ramond Edde is the only one who has nothing to be blamed of.

-Lahd's announcement came also hours after the five nation ceasefire monitoring committee meeting at Naqoura failed to condemn Israel for the killing of three Lebanese civilians drawing outrage from Hizbullah. The meeting ended 1.00 dawn today urging all parties to abide by April understanding's provisions which have all equal balance. While Washington state department spokesman welcomed the panel's reaffirmation of the commitment toward the understanding, Baalbek-Hermel Mp of Hizbullah Ammar Mussawi launched an attack against the American chairman of the committee. Mussawi said David Greenly "is biased towards Israel and is pressuring the committee to refrain from directly blaming Israel for breaching the truce". He also said that the panel members "must shoulder their responsibilities and clearly name the truce violators, instead of only recording events and viewpoints without reaching conclusions". House speaker Nabih Berri said if the monitoring committee failed to censure Israel, the government would take its case to the UN security council and the UN general assembly.

-Hizbullah said its fighters discovered two roadside bombs allegedly planted by Israel on Bafley road north of the occupied security zone's central sector. The resistance said the two charges included metal pellets and highly-explosive material, that would have caused severe damage had they exploded. They were similar to charges reportedly planted by Israeli agents in several front-line villages this year.

Fresh Report

-Evening news today reported conflicting views on the reopening of the crossing. Lebanese military source today said the real intentions of Israel and SLA evidently makes using of the crossing by citizens unsafe for the time being. The source said no pre- conditions or contacts with the enemy should take place and the shelling of the army unit that were clearing the road did not affect the work of the army.

-Jezzine MP Salim Kanaan after a meeting today with house speaker Nabih Berri quoted him saying the reopening of the crossing would take place before the army day on 1st August.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz told the Lebanese Journalists Association's delegation today that Israel will continue to use the security situation as pretext to keep the Kfar falous crossing closed.


-President Elias Hrawi, speaking at a ceremony in Aley today, to name a high school Maroun Abboud school, said both opposition and loyalists of the government are meaningless if not aimed to correct and adjust the state function and drive. He placed return of the displaced as a top priority issue and national task, as return of all displaced will recover all summer resorts in the mountain, including Aley, Bhamdoun, Sofar, and others. Hrawi argued how the Lebanese immigrants contributed to rebuilding various parts of the world cannot rebuild their own country.

-Prime minister Hariri yesterday arrived to London on the last leg of his European tour. He discussed with British counterpart today trade and peace issues.

-Foreign minister Fares Boueiz, in his second attack against prime minister Hariri, today said an official should feel more sense toward the internal domestic crisis and not to runaway from responsibility. "An official should care more for domestic problems instead of the unjustified futile tours abroad that are only used as media campaigning", Boueiz said.

He said the government should be more humble in its ambitions and tours abroad won't solve the internal problems. Boueiz said Hariri moves are provocative rather than a national rule, at a time the entire region is in a boiling situation. On the economy measures of Hariri government, Boueiz said the economical moves should aim to rebuild national economy not to aim hunting media highlight.

-President Hrawi told delegation of the Journalists Association that its not worth upsetting Gulf states for a few exports to Iraq. Hrawi said "the Arab League invited Iraqi athletes to the games. There was no Lebanese invitation".He said he is determined on the municipal and mayoral elections and against appointment of councils in the security zone. He denied any government reshuffle and called the opposition to suggest alternative to present prime minister. Hrawi rejected extending his term, assailed corruption, and excluded an extra session of the parliament. Speaking on his public opening of the games at "Camille Chamoun stadium", he said that was the end of the row over renaming the city "Otherwise, we will have to re-open the issue of names of all streets and institutions from one end of the country to the other".

-Patriarch Sfair put emphasis on living the spirit of the apostolic exhortation and apply it in order to face hardships of the present. He also called for passion, cooperation and solidarity among all people, to live renovation of mentality as it was called to by the exhortation.

-Greek Orthodox Patriarch Hazim in a TV interview said the stage is not the one of divorce between the government and people. He said the basic reason of a government existence is to be an instrument that serve its people. He added that the one who harms Lebanon should learn two things, first to love it and second to forgive so much. The patriarch said some media contribute to forge the image of the real actual situation.

-Kesrouan MP Rshayd el Khazen yesterday called for a popular rally to be held on July 27 where politicians, religious leaders and other residents of Kesrouan will come together to decide on a strategy to confront the government's policy of negligence towards the region. He did not rule out the possibility of calling for a civil disobedience during the rally, which will be staged at Mayrouba in upper Kesrouan. Khazen said "We should not differentiate between sheikh Subhi Tufeili and Rshayd el Khazen, "since both are living same situation".

-Lebanon's national education set to be revolutionized by sweeping reforms. Pre-university curricula will be brought up to date in both public and private schools.

-US state department spokesman today said he is expecting an administration's decision on the travel ban to Lebanon within the next week or perhaps in the coming ten days. He said Mrs. Albright is looking for the case and the US will have to make a decision on that. US senator Spenser Ibraham proposed that the travel ban be replaced by travel advise.

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