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.


Hundreds of Syrian ‘White Helmets’ evacuated by Israel to Jordan

Updated 27 min 47 sec ago
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Hundreds of Syrian ‘White Helmets’ evacuated by Israel to Jordan

  • Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives”
  • The evacuation came at the request of the US and several European countries

JERUSALEM: About 800 members of Syria’s White Helmets civil defense group and their families were evacuated via Israel to Jordan on Sunday from southwest Syria, where a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive is under way, media said.
In a statement, the Israeli military said it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organization and their families ... due to an immediate threat to their lives.”
It said they were transferred to a neighboring country, which it did not identify, and that the evacuation came at the request of the United States and several European countries.
Israeli media identified the Syrians as belonging to the White Helmets organization. Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria.
Jordan’s official Petra news agency said on its website the kingdom “authorized the United Nations to organize the passage of about 800 Syrian citizens through Jordan for resettlement in Western countries.”
The agency identified the Syrians as civil defense workers who fled areas controlled by the Syrian opposition after attacks there by the Syrian army.
Petra said they would remain in a closed area in Jordan and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.
The Syrian military, backed by a Russian air campaign, has been pushing into the edges of Quneitra province following an offensive last month that routed rebels in adjoining Daraa province who were once backed by Washington, Jordan and Gulf states.
The offensive has restored Syrian government control over a swathe of the southwest, strategic territory at the borders with Jordan and Israel.