Lebanon asks UN Security Council to pressure Israel after ‘airspace violation’

Lebanese President Michel Aoun. (AFP)
Updated 11 February 2018
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Lebanon asks UN Security Council to pressure Israel after ‘airspace violation’

BEIRUT: Officials in Lebanon closely followed the recent military developments between Israel and Syria, and noted the fall of fragments from rockets used in the confrontation in the Bekaa and southern Lebanon areas.
President Michel Aoun consulted with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who is outside Lebanon, about the position to be taken in this regard.
Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf called the UNIFIL commander, General Michael Perry, and conveyed to him “Lebanon’s rejection of the continuous Israeli violations that took place on Saturday in the form of mock raids carried out by Israeli warplanes above villages and towns in the south.”
Sarraf’s press office stressed “Lebanon’s rejection and condemnation of the use of Lebanese airspace by Israel to carry out its raids,” describing the incident as a “blatant violation of Lebanese sovereignty.”
The Lebanese Foreign Ministry in a statement condemned “the raids on Syria” and stressed the right of “legitimate self-defense against any Israeli aggression.” The statement added that “this aggressive policy practiced by Israel threatens stability in the region,” calling on “the countries concerned to rein in Israel to stop its aggression.”
It said: “Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil gave his instructions last Thursday to the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in New York to file a complaint with the Security Council against Israel, calling for the condemnation of Israel and warning it against using Lebanese airspace to launch attacks against Syria.”
In New York, Lebanon called on the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council to pressure Israel to immediately stop its violations of Lebanese airspace to launch airstrikes on Syrian territory.
“Israeli violations of Lebanese sovereignty are continuing by land, sea and air without any respect for international law or any consideration of Resolution 1701,” Lebanese Ambassador to the UN Amal Mudallali said in a complaint to the UN chief and the presidency of the UN Security Council.
Mudallali pointed out that Lebanon “had informed the Security Council in a previous complaint last year about Israel’s violation of Lebanese airspace in its raid on Syrian territory on Sept. 7, 2017,” asserting that these violations “paint a very dangerous pattern in addition to the patterns of daily violations of Lebanese sovereignty and constitute a new cycle of destabilization of regional security and peace by Israel.”
Mudallali reiterated Lebanon’s commitment to Resolution 1701 and called on the Security Council and the international community to “exert the necessary and effective pressure on Israel to ensure full compliance with the provisions of the resolution and its full implementation without delay, including the cessation of all violations of Lebanese airspace and sovereignty.”


Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

Updated 16 February 2019
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Erdogan offers seminary exchange for Greek mosque minarets

ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday suggested the mosque in Athens should open with minarets if the Greek premier wants to reopen a seminary in Istanbul.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in Turkey this month and visited the disputed landmarks of Hagia Sophia and the now-closed Greek Orthodox Halki seminary.
Tsipras said during the visit to the seminary located on Heybeli island off Istanbul on February 6 he hoped to reopen the school next time with Erdogan.
Future priests of the Constantinople diocese had been trained at the seminary, which was closed in 1971 after tensions between Ankara and Athens over Cyprus.
Erdogan on Saturday complained that the Fethiye Mosque in Athens had no minarets despite Greek insistence that it would open.
The mosque was built in 1458 during the Ottoman occupation of Greece but has not been used as a mosque since 1821.
“Look you want something from us, you want the Halki seminary. And I tell you (Greece), come, let’s open the Fethiye Mosque,” Erdogan said during a rally in the northwestern province of Edirne ahead of local elections on March 31.
“They said, ‘we are opening the mosque’ but I said, why isn’t there a minaret? Can a church be a church without a bell tower?” he said, describing his talks with Tsipras.
“We say, you want to build a bell tower? Come and do it... But what is an essential part of our mosques? The minarets,” the Turkish president added.
Erdogan said Tsipras told him he was wary of criticism from the Greek opposition.
After the independence war against Ottomans began in 1821, the minaret is believed by some to have been destroyed because it was a symbol of the Ottoman occupation.
Ankara had returned land taken from the seminary in 1943 but there is still international pressure on Turkey to reopen it.
Erdogan has previously said that its reopening is dependent on reciprocal steps from Greece to enhance the rights of the Turkish minority.