In a decision that could have diplomatic repercussions, Lebanon’s new government has agreed to a compromise policy statement giving all Lebanese citizens the irrefutable right to resist Israeli attacks and attempts to violate their sovereignty.
The language in the policy statement came after weeks of bitter dispute between the March 8th Alliance and March 14th Alliance (respectively Hezbollah and Christian General Aoun versus political opponents former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Sunni-led party and Christian right-wingers) that Haaretz says “brought the government to the verge of collapse”.
Haaretz reports the policy statement “falls short of explicitly enshrining Hezbollah’s role in confronting Israel”, but the message is clear; ‘citizens’, not just the army, should be allowed to be armed for the sake of resisting external hostilities.
“Based on the state’s responsibility to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the security of its citizens, the government affirms the duty of the state and its efforts to liberate the Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hills and the Lebanese part of Ghajar through all legitimate means,” the government statement said.
It also “affirms the right of Lebanese citizens to resist Israeli occupation and repel aggressions and recover occupied territory”.
Agreement on the declaration paves the way for Salam to put his government to a vote of confidence, almost exactly a year after he was first asked to try to put together a cabinet following the resignation of his predecessor, Najib Mikati.
The decision comes one day after rounds of Israeli artillery were fired into southern Lebanon, in an attack Israel says was retaliatory, stating they targeted “Hezbollah terror infrastructure” following a bombing on the border between the two countries.
It’s been a busy week for Israel. Bombing Gaza in the south, relations with Jordan hitting rock bottom after the assassination of one of their judges on border, and now this skirmish with Lebanon. And all coming down during the final stages of the “framework agreement”, whose promise of continued negotiations become slimmer by the minute. Last week, even John Kerry “expressed skepticism that Israel and the Palestinians would even be able to agree on a framework.”
Meanwhile, hostilities continue.
Israeli soldiers opened fire Saturday at “suspects” who approached the border with Lebanon, a military spokeswoman said.
“A certain number of suspects approached the Israel-Lebanon border. Soldiers fired in the air to warn them away, and they moved off,” she said.
No one was injured, she added.
An Agence France Presse correspondent in northern Israel said the “suspects” were apparently shepherds who approached the border by mistake.
Media said the incident happened near the village of Ghajar, not far from the disputed Shebaa Farms area.