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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Aug 04th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Extremism In Lebanon arrow Gemayel issues new call for Hizbullah to disarm
Gemayel issues new call for Hizbullah to disarm PDF Print E-mail
Written by Hussein Abdallah, Daily Star staff   
Sunday, 23 November 2008


BEIRUT: Former President Amin Gemayel called on Sunday for the disarming of Hizbullah and Palestinian factions inside and outside refugee camps. The Phalange Party leader issued the call during a speech at a memorial service to mark two years since the assassination of his son, MP and Industry Minister  Gemayel.

"The state cannot allow any illegal military presence on any of its territories ... not the weapons of Palestinian factions ... not the weapons of Hizbullah," he told the party faithful and senior members of the March 14 Forces of which the Phalange is a part. " The time has come for all these arms to be handed over to the state."

He added that "illegitimate" arms in Lebanon have exposed the country to the threat of Israeli attack and reflected negatively on the economic situation.

"We can build our economy through Paris I, II, and III and not through Zelzal 1, 2, and 3," he said, referring respectively to international donor conferences to support Lebanon and some of the missiles believed to be in Hizbullah's arsenal.

The memorial service was held in Karantina, a northern suburb of Beirut, and included the swearing in of 4,200 new Phalange members.

Gemayel also said that talks on a national defense strategy should focus on finding ways to maintain peace in Lebanon. "We need a strategy for peace and not war," he said. "Lebanon's peace is its only defense."

However, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri called Sunday for preserving Lebanon by preserving the resistance. "Resistance should remain in the heart of the South, which will always be in the heart of Lebanon," he said.

Speaking during a ceremony for his Amal Movement's Al-Resala Scouts, the speaker addressed the security situation inside Palestinian refugee camps.

"The camps, which were always a target for Israel, are becoming a target for terrorism," he said, urging Palestinian factions to develop a unified stance against extremism. Berri's remarks came as Palestinian groups at Sidon's  Ain al-Hilweh camp were considering ways to arrange the handover of a fugitive to the Lebanese Army.

Separately, President Michel Sleiman begins a two-day visit to Iran on Monday at the invitation of Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

"The president will discuss everything: political and economic issues, bilateral relations, the situation in the Middle East, the peace process," a government official told AFP Sunday on condition of anonymity.

Talks will also cover Lebanon's efforts to forge a national defense strategy - where Hizbullah's arsenal remains a thorny issue - the official said. Iran is a staunch supporter of the Hizbullah, which is also backed by Syria, but Tehran has denies Western and Israeli charges that it provides military assistance to Hizbullah.

Last May, the Shiite group and some of its allies staged a brief takeover of mainly Sunni parts of west Beirut, amid deadly clashes which brought the country to the brink of civil war and left at least 68 people dead.

The fighting ended after an accord was struck in Qatar between the parliamentary majority and the opposition, which also called for the development of a national defense strategy.

"The national defense strategy is an internal Lebanese issue. However, I believe they will discuss this issue [in Iran]," the official said.

Hizbullah has rejected calls to disarm, arguing that its weapons are essential to defend the country against Israel.

But March 14 MPs have argued that such weapons undermined the state's authority.

Sleiman - the third Lebanese president to visit Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution - will be accompanied by six ministers, including Labor Minister Mohammad Fneish, Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh and Interior Minister Ziyad Baroud.

"Each minister is taking with him files of what Lebanon needs from Iran," the official added.

Media reports on Sunday said Iran plans to propose providing the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with heavy weapons during Sleiman's visit. The pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat said Iranian officials would propose providing the LAF a package that would include missiles.

Also on Sunday, Sleiman hosted Prime Minister Fouad Siniora to discuss next week's Cabinet session, and received a delegation of Loyalty to the Resistance bloc legislators headed by MP Mohammad Raad.

Raad told reporters afterward the visit was mainly aimed at congratulating the president for Independence Day.

"We stressed the importance of focusing all efforts on protecting this independence and enhancing Lebanon's capabilities to face all threats," he said. "We also discussed the preparations for the president's visit to Iran ... We believe this visit will be distinguished both in style and content," he added.

Raad stressed that Sleiman's visit would serve the aim of continuing normal ties between the Lebanese and Iranian people.

"Iran is a regional power which played a positive role in enhancing civil peace in Lebanon ... It also supported the national consensus in Doha and is still supporting the right of the Lebanese people to resist Israeli occupation," he said.

Asked to comment on Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun's upcoming visit to Syria, Raad said that "both Lebanese and Syrians want relations between the two countries to be normal."

Aoun told the daily An-Nahar over the weekend that peace between Beirut and Damascus "is worth a visit."

"When French President Charles De Gaulle visited Germany in the aftermath of World War II, he said that peace was worthy of a visit," he said in comparison.  "I fought Syria in the past and now it is time to start a new era ... The Syrians left Lebanon and we should have the courage to make a change."

Aoun, a former LAF commander, launched a "War of Liberation" against Syrian troops in one of the closing rounds of Lebanon's 1975-1990 Civil War.

Also Sunday, Democratic Gathering MP Marwan Hamadeh said that Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt's recent visit to the United States proved that Lebanon was still a priority for the US administration.  Hamadeh accompanied Jumblatt on his trip.

On the security front, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) intensified deployments in the qadas of Chekka, Batroun and Koura on Sunday. The new measures were carried out upon orders from Baroud, said an Interior Ministry statement.

ISF chief Major General Ashraf Rifi also gave orders to all ISF units speed up their search for Marada Movement supporter Ghassan Kanaan, who is wanted in the shooting of Hanna Harb on November 17.

The victim, who suffered wounds to his abdomen and legs, is a supporter of March 14 Forces MP Butros Harb. - With AFP

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