News from Beirut May 13  1998 ...Search

Israeli air-raids on Bekaa

Israeli warplanes this morning carried out three consecutive air-raids on two Palestinian positions at the outskirts of Taanayel near Shtoura in the Bekaa area.

Ten Palestinians were killed and eighteen others were seriously wounded. The two positions were destroyed.

Security situation in the South

A cautious calm prevailed in south Lebanon a day after Israeli artillery targeted front-line villages, wounding civilians and damaging property. The Hizbullah guerillas retalliated by shelling an Israeli military position in northern Israel, wounding two Israeli soldiers.

Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai toured the border district with outgoing chief of staff Lt. Gen. Ammon Shahak and Israel's northern commander Maj Gen Amiran Levine. Mordechai reiterated his main mission was to secure the border area.

Elsewhere, the meeting of the five-nation ceasefire monitoring committee was concluded early this morning. The group urged the parties concerned to abide by the April Understanding and not to endanger civilians on both sides.

Beirut, Damascus and 425

Lebanese and Syrian leaders yesterday reiterated their opposition to Israel's proposal for a conditional withdrawal from south Lebanon and agreed to promote their "common program to checkmate the Israeli manoeuvre."

Prime minister Rafik Hariri briefed the Syrians on the results of his meeting with French president Jacques Chirac last Sunday in which the Israeli offer was raised.

Hariri was forced to remain in Damascus after suffering severe back pain. On his way back to Beirut, house speaker Nabih Berri called on Baabda where he briefed president Elias Hrawi on the outcome of the talks in Syria. He told reporters afterwards that the south was the main focus of the discussions.

Local elections fever

The pace of preparations for local elections in Lebanon has now become feverish, with thousands of candidates signing up nation-wide. In this context, Dory Chamoun, a leading Christian opposition figure and leader of the national Liberal party (NLP), yesterday announced his candidacy to head the municipal council of Deir al-Qamar, Chouf.

Chamoun said this would not affect his alliance with former president Amin Gemayel and former army commander Michel Aoun. However, he denied he would coordinate with the disbanded Lebanese Forces supporters.

Chamoun also said that minister of the displaced Walid Jumblatt would be neutral in the contest.

The move confused the electoral picture in the town, where a strong list headed by Dr. Suleiman Merhej had been the front-runner.

Another key development was the announcement that Beirut MP Tammam Salam will meet today with Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah, to discuss the elections.

Meanwhile, deputy speaker Elie Ferzli said in a radio interview that there was no reason to postpone the polls.

Speaker Nabih Berri said that compromise lists would not be the rule in every municipality, but "where there is no consensus, there will be consensus over democratic competition."

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