Iran TerrorismGemayel accuses Iran of using Hizbullah to hold Lebanon...

Gemayel accuses Iran of using Hizbullah to hold Lebanon hostage

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ImageDaily Star: Former President Amine Gemayel said in remarks published Thursday that Lebanon was being held hostage by Iran, adding that Hizbullah's authority stretched beyond that of the Lebanese state.

The Daily Star

Tueni slams party's may 'military operation' as unjustified

Friday, August 08, 2008

By Hussein Abdallah
Daily Star staff 
 
ImageBEIRUT: Former President Amine Gemayel said in remarks published Thursday that Lebanon was being held hostage by Iran, adding that Hizbullah's authority stretched beyond that of the Lebanese state. "Lebanon is the captive of an Iranian strategy that is being implemented by Hizbullah," Gemayel told the Arabic daily Ash-Sharq al-Awsat.

Gemayel added that Hizbullah's arms were not aimed at liberating the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms.

"These weapons are part of a broader regional strategy … Hizbullah is part of Iran's strategy and nothing else … the entire situation will change if Iran reconciles with the West."

The Phalange Party leader said that the situation in Lebanon will remain fragile as long as one party was using its weapons to impose its will on others. "As long as this is the case, the truce that was achieved in Doha will continue to be under threat," he said, referring to the Doha Agreement, which was signed on May 21, ending an 18-month political crisis in Lebanon.

"Hizbullah's arms are the core problem in Lebanon. All other problems are marginal compared to it," he added.

On the Shebaa Farms issue, Gemayel said that Syria was not offering Lebanon the necessary help to prove its sovereignty over the occupied territory.

"In the eyes of international law, the Shebaa Farms belong to Syria, which in turn did not present any documents to the UN supporting Lebanon's claim" to the territory, he said.

Gemayel added that relations between Lebanon and Syria would not return to normal before establishing diplomatic relations and settling the issue of missing Lebanese in Syrian jails.

Meanwhile, MP Ghassan Tueni said that Hizbullah's possession of arms was part of the party's ideology.

"When Hizbullah arms itself, it is indirectly encouraging every other party to do so," he told the local Orange television late on Wednesday.

Tueni argued that it was unjustified for Hizbullah to "launch a military operation" in reaction to the former government's decision to sack the head of airport security Brig. Gen. Wafiq Shoucair and probe Hizbullah's private phone network. Tueni was referring to the early May clashes between Hizbullah-led fighters and gunmen affiliated to Future Movement leader Saad Hariri and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt.

Meanwhile, Minister of State Youssef Taqla said on Thursday that the countdown to the return of the Shebaa Farms through diplomatic means "has started." He did not elaborate.

In an interview with the Arab weekly Al-Osbou al-Arabi, Taqla also addressed the issue of Lebanese-Syrian ties.

"Diplomatic ties start by appointing ambassadors and setting up a legal framework for the relations between the two states," he said.

He also called on the families of the Lebanese who are missing or detained in Syrian jails to deal seriously with their problem by resorting to judicial means.

President Michel Sleiman would be visiting Damascus next week to discuss bilateral relations with his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad.

Establishing diplomatic ties and the fate of Lebanese prisoners in Syrian jails are among the issues that are likely to be discussed during the visit.

In another development, Hizbullah lawmaker Hassan Fadlallah said on Thursday that a meeting between Hariri and Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah was "possible" in the near future.

Commenting on the draft ministerial statement, which will go to a vote of confidence in Parliament on Friday, Fadlallah said the document had secured Lebanon's right to liberate its occupied territories and defend itself against Israeli threats.

Also on Thursday, the Shiite Higher Council said that Lebanon should embrace and protect "the resistance" in order to confront all forms of Israeli aggression. "The resistance and the armed forces are both sources of power for Lebanon," it said.

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