Lebanon cabinet adopts policy statement



BEIRUT - Lebanon's cabinet on Wednesday adopted a policy statement granting Hezbollah the right to use its arms against Israel, despite the reservations of Christian ministers in the Western-backed majority.
"The council of minister today adopted the proposed policy statement," Information Minister Tarek Mitri said in a news conference after a cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.



Tarek Mitri
Tarek Mitri
Prime Minister Saad Hariri's government is now to face a vote of confidence in parliament on Monday, press reports said.
Five Christian members of the majority, including those of the Phalange Party and Lebanese Forces, "expressed reservations" around a clause in the statement on Hezbollah's arsenal, Mitri said.
They argue the arsenal undermines state authority and runs counter to UN resolutions.
A 13-member cabinet committee tasked with drafting the policy statement, which will be made public on Monday in its entirety, met 10 times in November to draft the statement, stumbling upon how to phrase a clause on the weaponry of the Shiite militant group.
Clause six of the final draft states the right of "Lebanon, its government, its people, its army and its resistance" to liberate all Lebanese territory.
Hezbollah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006, is commonly referred to as the resistance in Lebanon.
But Hezbollah, which has two ministers in the 30-member unity cabinet, regularly states its weapons are not open to discussion.
It argues its arms are necessary to protect the country against any future aggression by Israel, which withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000 after a 22-year occupation.
Lebanon's new cabinet is headed by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose US- and Western-backed alliance defeated a Hezbollah-led opposition supported by Syria and Iran in a June vote.
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Thursday, December 3rd 2009
AFP
           


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