The new Lebanese government has finally agreed on a policy manifesto,
after three weeks of bitter debate, allowing Hezbollah to keep its
weapons and continue its self-proclaimed "resistance" to Israel to
recover several disputed border territories. For VOA, Edward Yeranian
reports from Beirut.
Lebanon's government spokesman, Information
Minister Tarek Mitri read the long-awaited policy statement, requesting
that parliament now officially vote to approve the government,
nominally in place since July 11.
Lebanon's Orient le Jour
newspaper headlined "Finally!" amid a sense of public frustration that
it had taken politicians three weeks to cobble together a simple policy
The new national unity government, which includes
both the pro-Syrian Hezbollah and the pro-Western March 14 movement,
appeared eager to reach a compromise, putting the final touches on
their statement late last night, after a bitter and lengthy debate.
political leaders complained privately that the government had "given
in" to Hezbollah demands, agreeing that the group can keep its weapons
and continue to "resist Israel."
U.N. resolution 1559 calls on
the Lebanese government to "establish its sovereignty over all of its
territory and for Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias to "disband."
The new government manifesto is likely to cause some displeasure in both Israel and the United States.
French Press Agency reported that four cabinet members from Lebanon's
U.S.-supported March 14 Alliance expressed "reservations" over the
right of Hezbollah to "keep its weapons."
The manifesto does, however, insist that the "authority of the state" will be the "guiding principle" of the government.
Abd al Latif, of the Carnegie Center for Peace in the Middle East, was
more nuanced in her interpretation of the government policy statement,
however, calling it a "compromise".
"This is meant to be a
national unity government, so I think, in a sense, what came out,
yesterday, was basically a compromise," she said. "I wouldn't put it in
so many words as 'caving in' to Hezbollah. It needed a compromise
statement that could sort of get the support and consensus of all the
No Lebanese government, she also argues,
could have ignored the issue of Hezbollah's weapons, because Hezbollah
is part of the new government.
"Hezbollah is a party in this
government; it has ministers in this government, so the statement
couldn't come out without a reference the right of the Lebanese people
to resist and also the right to liberate occupied lands, of course in
reference to Sheba'a Farms," said Abd al Latif.
possesses an 11 member minority in Lebanon's unity government, in
accordance with the Doha Agreement of May 21, which put an end to
months of political crisis, and bloody street-fights in May, which left
scores of people dead.