President Elias Al-Hrawi today announced Lebanon's rejection of the Wye Plantation Accord reached between Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under US sponsorship. Hrawi said, "save peace from Israeli intentions and save Arab rights from the hands of some Arab negotiators."
Hrawi was speaking at the opening of the 21st Conference of Arab Engineers at the UNESCO Palace. The president also called on all participants to take part in Lebanon's reconstruction process. He also praised Lebanon's security and monetary stability and the recent accomplishment of the presidential elections. Hrawi added Lebanon now stands as another example of democracy in the Orient.
In Parliament today, a number of Lebanese MPs voiced their criticism of the Wye River Accord signed by the Israelis and the Palestinians. Some deputies said the agreement meant more concessions to Israel. Others viewed it rendered the Palestinian Authority a policeman to protect the security of Israel.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese Parliament will start tomorrow a three-day legislative session that will be held to discuss the public sector pay scales draft law and the rent draft law.
On the eve of the session, the head of the administration and justice committee in parliament, Deputy Shaker Abu-Sleiman said the rent draft law is the best up to now, denying reports of its possible retrieval during the general session tomorrow.
President-elect General Emil Lahhoud today held a third round of talks with Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri in Lahhoud's residence at the Bain Militaire. But the meeting today was different; it took place over five consecutive hours and it was attended by Acting Finance Minister Fouad Al-Sanyoura.
The meeting was also intermitted by talks with officials from the Higher Relief Committee, the Council of the South, the Central Fund for the War Displaced, the Council for Development and Reconstruction in addition to heads of leading public institutions and private economic groups in the country. The last two meetings between Hariri and Lahhoud were held behind closed doors. The two leaders are discussing the hottest files of the upcoming term.
After the meeting today, the premier said discussions with these institutions aim at acquainting the president-elect with their achievements and the way they operate. Government sources said business meetings will continue between Hariri and Lahhoud until the president-elect officially takes over the president's office.
The Lebanese Army today stepped up security measures in the southern city of Sidon where two policemen were gunned down over the weekend. The two traffic policemen, Morshed Abu-Saleh and Nizar Al-Areedi, were shot to death on Saturday by two men riding a motorcycle while they were on duty in Sidon's Martyrs' Square.
The southern security council yesterday held an emergency meeting in the presence of the Governor of the South, Faysal Al-Sayegh. The meeting decided upon new measures to be implemented in the capital of the south. More than 100 motorists were accordingly arrested for investigation.
Army tanks and soldiers were seen everywhere in the city since the early morning hours today. Army and security forces units set up checkpoints in and around the city, stopping and searching cars and motorists. All motorcycles are being banned in the city between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Special security is also being provided to traffic police everywhere in Sidon. Investigations into the crime are underway and the Governor of the South promised to release the results as soon as possible.
The five-nation cease-fire monitoring group today met at the UNIFIL's headquarters in Naqoura to look into a number of Lebanese and Israeli complaints filed over violations of the April 1996 Understanding. The Lebanese side to the group filed three complaints over Israeli shelling of the village of Bnaafoul in the South and the towns of Dellafeh and Qelya in the Western Bekaa where a child was injured. Civilian homes were also damaged in the Israeli attacks.
For its part, Israel lodged two complaints accusing the resistance of launching attacks from civilian areas in the village of Majdel Zoun. Another Israeli complaint alleged that resistance rockets fell inside Israel. Resistance sources denied the Israeli accusation saying its groups targeted the Israeli outpost of Berkat Reesha, situated to the east of Yareen inside Israel in retaliation to Israeli phosphoric shelling of the Southern villages of Majdel Zoun and Mansouri which blazed fires in the fields of the two villages.
The head of the Higher Shiite Council Sheikh Mohammed Mahdi Shamseddine today headed to Morocco for an official visit. He is expected to meet King Hasan II, the Minister of Islamic Affairs and some other Moroccan officials.
At Beirut's International Airport, Shamseddine criticized the latest peace deal reached between the Israelis and the Palestinians at the Wye summit. He also expressed worry of the harmful outcome of such a deal. Shamseddine called on Lebanon and all Arab states to fortify themselves against all threats.
The Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon, Nazem Demlo, today expected that his country might call on Lebanon to join the military pact that was recently signed between Turkey and Syria. Demlo was speaking after talks today with the Secretary General of the Foreign Ministry, Zafer Al-Hasan.
He said he briefed the Lebanese Foreign Ministry on the content of the Turkish-Syrian meetings. He added, geographically speaking, Lebanon should take part in these meetings. But the Turkish Ambassador said he did not receive any official stance from his government regarding Lebanon's joining the agreement.
The Greenpeace Mediterranean Office in Beirut released a press release saying that the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) and the Ministry of Environment are pressuring the Sidon Municipality to accept the polluting concept of "sanitary landfills" to "solve" the waste crisis in the country.
The Greenpeace statement added the ministry recently rejected a plan for Sidon based on separation after collection, composting and recycling of waste. This project ruled out the use of sanitary landfills and incineration as an option. The city council of Sidon last month scrapped plans for a waste incinerator after Greenpeace had uncovered this.
"The CDR and the Ministry of Environment are clinging to a two-year old 'emergency plan' that envisages setting up so-called sanitary landfills all over the country, while only in some cases primitive separation after collection is to take place," said Fouad Hamdan, Lebanon campaigner of Greenpeace Mediterranean.
Greenpeace also called on the concerned authorities to benefit from the experiences of local environmental groups in Lebanon, which have been implementing successful waste management projects. These projects that are funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) can be traced in the villages of Arab Salim, Maghduche and Bsharre.
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