Hariri to officially resign after Lebanese Independence Day

French President Emmanuel Macron and Saad Hariri, who announced his resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister, walk together in the courtyard of the Elysee Palace in Paris on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Hariri to officially resign after Lebanese Independence Day

BEIRUT: Saad Hariri, who resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister on Nov. 4, said he will join President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri in Independence Day celebrations on Wednesday.
Berri’s press office said Hariri told him in a phone call from Paris on Saturday that he will return to Lebanon before Independence Day and will join the president and the Parliament speaker in a military parade to mark the occasion.
Aoun received a phone call from French President Emmanuel Macron just before Hariri’s arrival at the Élysée Palace.
The press office of the Lebanese presidential palace said they discussed developments following Hariri’s resignation, and Aoun thanked Macron “for the interest he has shown in Lebanon.”
The spokesman for the Lebanese presidential palace, Rafiq Shalala, told Arab News that Hariri “will attend the military parade as prime minister because he didn’t submit his resignation to the president.”
Shalala added: “The step of submitting the resignation to President Aoun isn’t clear until the return of Hariri to Beirut. We haven’t been informed of its date yet.”
Khaled Kabbani, a former member of the Constitutional Council and former minister, told Arab News that Hariri could attend the celebration either as prime minister or as premier of a caretaker government if his resignation is accepted.
The Independence Day ceremony is usually headed by the president, prime minister and Parliament speaker, and Hariri’s presence could help calm uncertainties.
Hariri, along with his wife and son, landed before dawn Saturday at an airport used for private jets in Le Bourget north of Paris, and came in a convoy to his Paris residence in a high-end neighborhood, where police stood guard. The security arrangements prevented reporters from reaching their home.
Hariri’s press office said he later went to the Elysee Palace, where he was received “warmly” by Macron.
They held a private meeting, “discussed recent developments and public affairs,” and then they were joined by Hariri’s wife Lara Al-Azm and elder son Hussam and Macron’s wife Brigitte for lunch.
After the meeting, Hariri thanked France and Macron for their support, saying: “France is playing a positive role in the region, and we are always interested in their support for us.”
Hariri added that he will “announce all my political positions” from Lebanon after meeting with Aoun. “I resigned and we’ll talk in Lebanon.”
Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam said there was a “need for understanding” between Aoun and Hariri after the latter’s return to Beirut.
Karam warned about “current attempts to harm the brotherly relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia with the incitement of Iran and Hezbollah.”
Saudi Arabia on Saturday asked its citizens for the second time in less than two weeks to leave Lebanon “as soon as possible” given the “circumstances” there, according to The Associated Press (AP).  
The Arab League is due to hold a meeting on Sunday in Cairo at Saudi Arabia’s urging where the Lebanon crisis and Iran’s role in the region are expected to be discussed, the agency added.


Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull

Updated 4 min 35 sec ago
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Israel reopens people, goods crossings to Gaza after lull

  • Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as fears of a new war rose
  • Near daily protests along the border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army

JERUSALEM: Israel ordered the country’s goods and people border crossings with Gaza to be opened on Sunday, just four days after shuttering them following a Palestinian rocket attack that sparked retaliatory strikes.
The move followed efforts to prevent an escalation in ongoing violence that has raised fears of a new war between Israel and the Palestinian territory’s Islamist rulers Hamas.
“The decision comes after a decrease in the violent events in Gaza over the weekend and efforts Hamas made to restrain” demonstrators, a statement from Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office read.
On Wednesday, Lieberman had ordered the closure of the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and the Erez crossing for people, after a rocket from the Palestinian territory hit a home in southern Israel, prompting the Jewish state to strike 20 Hamas targets in Gaza.
Hamas disavowed the launch and said it was investigating the incident, as alarm over a potential broader conflict rose.
Near daily protests along the Gaza border since March 30 against Israel’s crippling 11-year blockade of the impoverished enclave have sparked repeated clashes with the army.
More than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the violence.
On Friday, thousands again gathered for protests in northern Gaza, but demonstrators largely remained at least 100 meters (yards) from the border.
An Israeli army spokesman told AFP that while most of the protesters stayed back from the fence, some came close and threw explosive devices and hand grenades at troops, while burning tires.
At least 130 Palestinians were injured by live fire in clashes with Israeli soldiers, the Gaza health ministry said.
Hamas officials were seen discouraging protesters from nearing the fence.
Israel had on Wednesday also suspended the delivery of fuel for the Palestinian territory’s power plant that had been trucked daily into Gaza under a deal brokered by the United Nations.
“The decision on the renewal of the fuel from Qatar has been put off as for the time being, and will be examined in a number of days based on the events,” the Sunday statement from Lieberman said.
An Egyptian security delegation that visited the Gaza Strip on Thursday had encouraged Hamas leader Ismail Haniya to calm the protests, according to an Egyptian official.
On Friday, United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov also urged all sides “to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation.”
Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2008 and fears of a fourth have spurred efforts by Egypt and the United Nations for a wider deal that would see Israel ease its blockade in exchange for a long-term truce with the militants.