President Elias Al-Hrawi today called on the Islamic World to stand by Syria in light of the escalating Turkish threats. Hrawi warned against the "Zionist danger" which is threatening the whole world, referring to the Turkish-Israeli military alliance. The president was speaking at the opening of the Seventh Islamic Trade Exhibition in Tripoli. President Hrawi also called on the Organization of Islamic States to hold an urgent meeting in support to Syria. Hrawi reminded the gathering of an announcement made by Turkish President Mesut Yilmaz during the Tehran Summit last year saying that his country is ready to preserve freedoms especially in Islamic states. Hrawi also reiterated support for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the current crisis between Ankara and Damascus.
The parliamentary justice and administration committee started its session at noon in parliament headed by Deputy Shaker Abu-Sleiman and attended by 16 member deputies, 12 non-member deputies, Justice Minister Bahij Tabbara, and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Elias Hanna. The session discussed the draft project referred by cabinet on introducing amendment to Article 49 of the constitution. Parliamentary sources earlier stressed the committee will ratify the draft project despite the current constitutional dispute in this regard. The move would allow first rank civil servants and judges to run for presidency.
After the committee's approval of the amendment, the draft law will be referred to parliament's general assembly which will meet tomorrow. House Speaker Nabih Berri is then expected to set a date for parliament to convene and elect the new head of state. Sources expect the election to be held either next Thursday or the following Monday.
President Elias Al-Hrawi's term in office ends on November 23. The expected head of state, Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud, if elected, would be the tenth Lebanese President since the country's independence and the second army commander elected president in the history of Lebanon.
Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri today reportedly reiterated support for Army Commander General Emil Lahhoud's upcoming presidency and stressed that it was still early to discuss the subject of the next government formation.
Government sources also said that the prime minister will highly cooperate with Lahhoud on all possible levels. The prime minister was quoted by his visitors as saying the upcoming presidential term will be characterized by harmony between the prime ministry and the first presidency. Visiting deputies today told reporters at the Grand Saray the upcoming government should gain the trust of all Lebanese. Deputy Assem Qansou called for a government that should seek real change. Deputy Antoine Haddad expected the Army Commander to be elected during a parliamentary session held next Thursday. Hariri today held talks with 13 MPs in addition to Information Minister Bassem Al-Sabaa and Tourism Minister Nicola Fattoush.
Israeli occupying forces in South Lebanon today shelled the fields of Sojod, Rayhan, and Mazraat Okmata in Iqlim Al-Touffah. The area of Jabal Al-Rafii was also subject to heavy artillery shelling originating from Israeli outposts in Zaffateh and Aysheyyeh.
Last night, Israeli shells targeted the villages of Nabatieh, Nabatieh Al-Faouqa, Kfar Rumman and areas in the Iqlim Al-Touffah Mountain Ridges. Huge fires blazed in olive fields and pine forests due to the bombardment.
For its part, the Lebanese resistance today announced one of its groups carried out an operation at noon against the Sojod outpost. A statement by the resistance said the attack inflicted great damage in the position's front and scored direct hits among its soldiers.
Israeli troops today expelled Lebanese civilian Wafaa Salim Melhem and her three-year-old baby, Norman, through the Zemrayya border crossing. Wafaa was in a visit to her relatives in the Bekaa before trying to return to her village, Shibaa at noon. In the last 24 hours, Israeli forces detained seven Lebanese from the village of Hasbayya. Among the detainees were Raed Ali Zeineddine from Ain Qenya, Marwan Saab from Shibaa, and Samir Hani Snnan who is a member of the Israeli allied militia. Three workers in the construction site of Hasbayya's public hospital were also detained today.
The five-nation cease-fire panel in charge of monitoring the April 1996 understanding is scheduled to meet tomorrow at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura. The group will look into two complaints: one filed by the Lebanese delegate to the group and the other by the Israeli side. Lebanon lodged its complaint over Israeli shelling of the Southern village of Barasheet causing damage in a number of civilian homes there. The Israeli complaint accuses the Lebanese resistance of launching attacks on Israeli positions in the occupation zone from civilian populated areas in South Lebanon. The truce bans attacks to and from civilian areas.
The seventh Islamic Trade Fair today opened in Tripoli by President Elias Al-Hrawi. The exhibition, held at the Rashid Karameh International Exhibition Center, extends over a period of seven days. The fair is expected to attract businessmen from almost all the Islamic countries of the world. Minister of Trade and Economy Yassin Jaber, who took part in the opening, said the event is an opportunity for all countries to see the progress achieved in Lebanon. Around 600 companies from 18 Islamic states are displaying various products such as furniture, carpets, household appliances, chemical products, construction materials and food products.
Lebanon's Council for Development and Reconstruction today signed an agreement with a visiting delegation of the American Agency for Trade and Development. The accord was signed by CDR head, Nabil Al-Jiser and the US agency's director, Joseph Grand Maison. The agreement helps CDR to conduct a study to establish a national center for geographic information. Al-Jiser said the center would aid public sector institutions in planning and executing reconstruction projects. The study is expected to be conducted in a period of 10 months. The overall cost of the study is estimated to reach around 260,000 US dollars, 130,000 of which are to be donated by the US agency. The delegation met Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri this afternoon at the Grand Saray in the presence of the US ambassador to Lebanon, David Satterfield. Satterfield told reporters his country is highly encouraging US companies to invest in Lebanon.
The conference on Middle East Strategies Up to 2011 that deals with the issues of oil and gas and their effect on the different investment systems in the region today opened in Beirut under the patronage of Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri. Minister of State, Michel Eddeh, who represented the premier in the event, stressed that cooperation is necessary and required on the economic level between all the countries of the region. He added this is difficult to achieve without political cooperation and good political ties between those countries based on the principle of just and comprehensive peace. Eddeh also called on Ankara to use dialogue instead of threat to solve its problems with Syria.
The permanent office of the Union of Arab Lawyers will open its conference tomorrow in the country. The head of the Lawyers Syndicate in North Lebanon, George Tawk, today announced that the opening, previously scheduled for tomorrow morning, will be delayed until 5:00 in the afternoon. This change was decided to suit Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri's busy morning agenda, who is due to attend parliament's general assembly meeting.
The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office in Beirut issued a statement congratulating Saida's Municipality for having recently cancelled plans to set up a waste incinerator in the southern city. This move came after Greenpeace and local activist Mohammed al-Sariji in Saida last August revealed that the planned incinerator would be a major source of pollution.
"Greenpeace congratulates the Saida Municipality, especially its mayor Hilal Kobrosli, for refusing to import the dirty incineration technology," said Fouad Hamdan, Lebanon campaigner of the Greenpeace Mediterranean Office. He added municipalities all over Lebanon are worried about the negative health and environmental impact of the planned landfills.
Greenpeace opposes the dumping of hazardous and toxic waste. Only non-recyclable, non-compostable and non-toxic wastes can be landfilled, especially in Lebanon where the geology is mainly made of sand and fractured rocks with rich water reservoirs underneath.
Greenpeace recently published a report on ways to solve the waste crisis in a Mediterranean society. The report describes how the waste crisis in Lebanon could be solved with a nation-wide plan based on waste reduction, separation at source, reuse and then recycling.
The increasing high temperature and fast dry winds in Lebanon today blazed fires in different areas in the country. One of the biggest fires blazed in the village of Toura in the district of Tyre. Other fires were fought by Civil Defense teams in Yahshoush, Kahhaleh, Jiser Al-Qadi, Mazraat Al-Shouf, Al-Qbayyat, Roumieh, Shheem, Ennaya, Halba, and Jezzine. Civil Defense sources called on citizens to be on the alert and to abstain from throwing glass and cigarettes in the fields and forests. The Civil Defense also reminded all citizens to dial 125 whenever they witness any fire.
Weather sources in Lebanon predict the temperature will increase accompanied by a decrease in the percentage of humidity.
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