News from Beirut August 6 1997 ...Search

South Lebanon's Escalation

-Sequence of Israel's military daily attacks against south Lebanon and west Bekaa have raised fear of a large scale military show down and intimidate the resistance to counter reaction that will involve Lebanon and Syria at a delicate present M.E. situation. Israel's new military escalatory method that was enforced in the past days seriously threatened last year's April understanding. Hizbullah warned Tuesday of launching suicide operations inside Israel in retaliation to the Israeli commando raid and its warplanes raid at west Bekaa.

-On Tuesday, Israel's warplanes staged five air raids against outskirts of the village Libbaya and Yohmor in west Bekaa. Two civilians were killed and three wounded, additional to series of fires. Inside the security zone, a Lebanese civilian was killed on Kfarhoune-Jezzine main road and an SLA man was wounded when SLA post at Ahmadieh and Zimraya came under shelling. Hizbullah did not launch any attack in the Jezzine area Tuesday but warned of operations inside Israel. The party's deputy leader said during the funeral of resistance fighters killed in the Israeli landing said "with the oppressive measures against the Palestinians and Lebanese Israel will find itself facing suiciders and explosive blasts inside Palestine and the Lebanese occupied territory".

-Lebanon filed Tuesday two complaints to the ceasefire monitoring committee against Israel, one for planting an explosive charge on Monday at Kfour where five civilians were wounded, and another for raiding Libbaya village in west Bekaa where four more civilians were wounded too. The two cases were regarded by Lebanon as violation of the ceasefire. The monitoring panel is due to meet Thursday to examine the case. Israel has warned it will file another complaint against Lebanon for the killing of a civilian in a blast explosion in Jezzine. Israel said its complaint is in protest to Hizbullah's actions which inflict casualties among Lebanese civilians.

-Secretary general of the Palestinian self rule authority Tayed Abdel Rahim said yesterday that Israeli sources and international reliable sides informed the authority that the suiciders, who carried Jerusalem's bombing last Wednesday, came from outside and used sophisticated explosives that were never used before in suicide operations against Israel. He said according to the information the explosives were often used by the Lebanese Hizbullah fighters in operations against Israel. Abdel Rahim said that the punitive measures imposed by Israel against the Palestinians were not aimed to ensure security but was an attempt to humiliate the Palestinian authority and use the bombing for political motives.

Lebanon Cabinet's Counter Revolution Measures

-Sheikh Subhi Tufeili continued his harsh critics against the government and said his "hunger revolution" is going ahead. He said Bekaa is not in need for tanks nor to threats as it fears nobody but it needs fairness. He said he is ready to put off all his moves on the condition that the government lays down an allover, accurate program with a timetable that aim to bring out the country from the economical crisis, "otherwise the hunger revolution will go on until death". He said he did not call for dismissal of any minister or ruler and did not call for a review of the general order but all what he demanded was to eliminate hunger and deprive.

-Lebanon's cabinet at its weekly meeting today at the presidential palace is expected to take more strict measures against calls for civil disobedience and revolutions, especially the one announced by sheik Subhi Tufeili. The interior minister has proposed in a formal request to tighten security and instruct the army and ISF police to deter violations and state prosecution to move on and arrest those calling for disobedience. News reports today said the cabinet members are not in total agreement on the measures.

-The case of MP Najah Wakim is at a standstill and impasse. He did not stand before the Beirut's prosecutor and was instead represented by two lawyers. The two advocated that MP Wakim cannot be prosecuted for ideas and opinions he announces during his parliamentary term. The house speaker is opposing the prosecution for constitutional reasons, but the president is determined to go on with the file refusing compromise or shelving it. The arrest of Mr.. Wakim is excluded according to lawmakers because of legal and constitutional stipulations.

-MP Wakim after a visit to the house speaker said he won't retreat what he said on Saturday at Baalbek but some of his words were wrongly quoted. He said he did not call for violence.


-House speaker Nabih Berri warned at an oath giving of new AMAL members that Israel is generating its project "Lebanon's First" trying to instigate the Lebanese against each other.

-The parliamentary foreign relations committee yesterday unanimously authorized the government to join and ratify the international agreement on combating hostage taking. Prime minister Rafik Hariri and foreign minister Fares Boueiz stated the important reasons behind the ratification. Hizbullah MP reserved the timing but not the substance and hinted to simultaneous ratification and the US decision to lift the travel ban. Premier Hariri outlined that the agreement did not include any commitment toward any party, there is no linkage with the travel ban. Hariri said the draft was sent and passed by the parliament justice committee two months ago, that is before the US lifted the travel ban. Mr.. Hariri reaffirmed the Lebanese invariables that do not permit binding Lebanon to a relation with Israel. He also distinguished between the right of resistance and terrorism. He denied any package behind the lift of the travel ban and asserted that the agreement did not establish any relation or cooperation with Israel. The international agreement was signed by 89 state including 9 Arab states.

-Former house speaker Hussein Husseini is planning to issue an Arabic daily after the private NTV TV station which he is one of its shareholders were not given license.

-Former prime minister Selim Hoss signed before his travel to the US a national memorandum demanding municipal and mayoral elections in the country. The memorandum is now gaining more public support and the organizers plan to have one million signature, that perhaps persuade the government to reconsider its earlier decision, to extend term in office of the present municipalities. The last municipal elections in Lebanon had been held 34 years ago.

-Preparations are underway in Beirut on verge of the talks tomorrow in Lebanon between the Egyptian prime minister Kamal Janzouri and his Lebanese counterpart. Its the first ever visit by such an Egyptian official to Lebanon in decades. Bilateral agreements in various fields are expected to be signed during the visit.

-Cypriot MP Antoine Haji Rousso yesterday met foreign minister Fares Boueiz and discussed the situation of the Maronite community in the island and outcome of the talks held between Cypriot Turks and Greek. The Cypriot Mp said the Maronites there were 6,000 living in four villages in north of the island, but evacuated to south of the island after the Turks came in.

-Patriarch Sfair yesterday stressed before his visitors the importance of Wadi Qannoubine and the necessity to preserve the heritage of those who lived for over 400 years in the holy spiritual valley.

-The Arab-International arbitration conference at its second day in Beirut discussed the modern renovations in the Arab arbitration laws.

-The Washington Post daily's article on autocratic regimes in the Arab world classified Lebanon as an unfree country. The article said Lebanon is under a strong military influence and partially occupied by the Syrian forces. The article classified Israel as the only free country in the M.E. and said Jordan, Turkey, Morocco, and Kuwait are partially free. Under the "not free" category there were states including Lebanon, Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Egypt. The Lebanese embassy in Washington is now preparing a response to the article that will be sent to the paper.

-Lebanon's administrative reform minister Beshara Merhej who is visiting Washington to meet officials in the world bank said the confessionalism in Lebanon is the major problem facing the administrative reform.

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