News from Beirut January 2  1998 ...Search

Israeli soldier injured in the South and Shibaa siege eased today

An Israeli military spokesman today said a soldier was slightly injured yesterday during an exchange of fire with quote anti-Israeli forces near Kantara on the edge of the zone Israel occupies in the South. The military spokesman did not identify the "anti-Israeli forces" but yesterday a Palestinian group claimed responsibility for an attack against an Israeli patrol. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command said it carried out an attack in the central sector of the occupied zone that killed and wounded members of an Israeli patrol. The group reiterated a previous stance saying it will neither hold a dialogue with nor recognize the Zionist enemy.

Meanwhile, Israel today eased the siege on the village of Shibaa inside the zone Israel occupies in the South. Residents were allowed to leave their village but only to other areas of the occupied zone. They are still banned from crossing the borders to the freed territories. The siege entered its 11th day today. Israel imposed the siege last Tuesday and detained a number of villagers with no specified reason.

Five Lebanese continue treatment in Amman after car crash

The Lebanese Foreign Ministry today received a letter from the Lebanese embassy in Jordan saying only five Lebanese are continuing treatment in an Amman hospital after a car accident yesterday in the Azrak area. The wounded are Samir Gergy Nicola, his wife Nadia, their daughter Celine, Mohammed Hussein Joumaa and his wife Fahima Abu Lsan. They are being treated in Al-Bashir hospital for broken bones and wounds.

Hariri: presidential and local elections, the main events in 1998

Prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri last night said two events will mark the year 1998: presidential elections and municipal and mayoral elections. He was speaking during an Iftar (lunch after fasting) he held in his residence in Kraytem. The Iftar was attended by deputies Tamman Salaam and Mohammed Youssef Baydoun along with a number of political, social, and religious figures in the country. Hariri hoped next year will be better than the previous ones. The premier also discussed with his visitors the situation in the region hoping peace efforts will lead better results in the year 1998. Prime minister Hariri said Lebanon is a country that believes in peace despite Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's hard-line policies. Hariri also hope peace will prevail on all Arab land when Israel withdraws from all occupied areas.

Ferzli says budget deficit needs time to be overcome

House Speaker Nabih Berri's deputy Elie Al-Ferzli today said the deficit in the government's budget needs time to be eliminated. He added the country needs a new and long-term plan to overcome the deficit. Ferzli said he supported the borrowing policy but not using the Lebanese Lira. Deputy Ferzli hoped the coming circumstances will allow administrative reform plans to be better implemented stressing the importance of activating government control agencies. Ferzli also said he sensed some change with the beginning of the implementation of the Baabda agreement, an economic revival plan reached between President Elias Al-Hrawi, House Speaker Nabih Berri and prime minister Rafik Al-Hariri in Baabda last month.

Meanwhile, the budget and finance committee in parliament will continue studying the budgets allocated to the different ministries next Monday.

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