Arab foreign ministers reaffirm centrality of Palestinian cause

Updated 14 April 2018
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Arab foreign ministers reaffirm centrality of Palestinian cause

  • Ministers reaffirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause to the Arab world
  • The ministers stressed their full solidarity with Lebanon

RIYADH: Arab foreign ministers have reaffirmed the centrality of the Palestinian cause to the Arab world, and the Arab identity of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.
At their preparatory meeting for the 29th Arab League Summit, they renewed their commitment to peacefully resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative.
The ministers said the US decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there is invalid, and a dangerous violation of international law and UN resolutions.
They said East Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine, and reaffirmed their rejection of any attempt to deny or limit Palestinian sovereignty there. 
They strongly condemned illegal Israeli settlements throughout occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem.
The ministers stressed their full solidarity with Lebanon, its government and all its constitutional institutions that preserve national unity, security, stability and sovereignty. 
They highlighted the Lebanese right to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, the Kfar Shuba Hills and the Lebanese side of the village of Ghajar.
The ministers stressed their commitment to maintaining Syria’s sovereignty, stability, territorial integrity and safety. 
They said the only possible solution to the conflict is political, based on the participation of all Syrian parties. 
They added that the Turkish military operation in the Syrian region of Afrin undermines ongoing efforts to reach a political solution to the Syrian crisis.
The ministers reaffirmed their commitment to Libya’s unity, sovereignty and safety, their rejection of outside interference, and their support for efforts by the Government of National Accord to weaken terrorist groups, extend the state’s sovereignty, protect its borders and maintain its resources. They urged a comprehensive political solution to the Libyan crisis.
They expressed support for Yemen’s internationally recognized government, and its efforts to restore safety and security throughout the country, and to maintain its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. The ministers rejected outside interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.
They reaffirmed Emirati sovereignty over the Greater Tunb, Lesser Tunb and Abu Musa islands, and their support for all peaceful measures taken by the UAE to liberate them from Iranian occupation.
They stressed the importance of having cooperative relationships between Arab countries and Iran based on good neighborliness.
The ministers condemned Iranian interference in Arab countries’ internal affairs, considering it a violation of international law, the principle of good-neighborliness and state sovereignty. 
They urged Tehran to stop actions that jeopardize regional trust, security and stability.
The ministers condemned all forms of criminal and terrorist activity in Arab countries and worldwide, including the use of religious, sectarian and racist slogans that can cause strife and violence. 
They said military and security solutions alone are not enough to defeat terrorism.


Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

Updated 19 July 2019
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Retired Lebanese soldiers in tense standoff with army during benefit cuts protest

  • Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place
  • The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions

BEIRUT: Retired Lebanese soldiers on Friday came close to clashing with the country’s army when weeks of protests over planned benefit cuts reached boiling point in the capital Beirut.
Dressed in military uniforms, large numbers of veterans attempted to force their way through barricades set up to stop demonstrators reaching the city’s parliament building where a final vote on a controversial draft austerity budget was taking place.
A military source told Arab News that the Lebanese army leadership had decided to block access to Najma Square, in Beirut’s Central District, where Parliament members were sitting.
But former soldiers, joined by the parents of army martyrs and activists from the Sabaa and Communist parties, surrounded the building in nearby streets before attempting to push through barbed wire, concrete and metal barriers erected by the Lebanese army and the Internal Security Forces.
The protesters, waving Lebanese and army flags, got as far as the entrance to Maarad Street, on which Parliament is located, putting them in direct confrontation with the Lebanese troops.
Ten brigades of reinforcements were drafted in to help push back the veterans before protest leaders eased tensions by calling for a retreat to a nearby square to avoid any further clashes.
The meeting to vote on the 2019 draft budget came after a marathon three days of discussions. Before entering the parliamentary session, Lebanese Minister of Defense Elias Bou Saab said that “misleading the retired soldiers” would be “harmful to the image and demands of the protesters” and called on them to carry out “peaceful demonstrations.” He added that there had been mixed and confused messages regarding benefit cuts.
However, retired Brig. Gen. Georges Nader had vowed that protesters would not back off until the vote on their benefits was dropped.
Discussing the protests in Parliament, Samy Gemayel, president of the Phalange party, objected to the reduction in the army budget, to which Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri said: “This has been concluded on the bases of an understanding with the army and the military establishment.”
MP Paula Yacoubian said that “retired soldiers are trying to storm Parliament,” to which Berri said: “Those who want to storm Parliament have not yet been born.”
The row had centered on a controversial article concerning amendments to the country’s income tax act, and Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil insisted on defending it. He said: “It does not cost the retired soldiers, for instance, more than 3,000 Lebanese pounds ($2) per month. This amount rises to 400,000 pounds for brigadiers.” He added: “Which country in the world gives a retiree 85 percent of his salary?”
After a meeting between the minister and Nader in Parliament, the retired brigadier general went out to reassure the veterans that cuts from their salaries in respect of medicine and income tax would be reduced. Less intense protests continued for more than three hours before Parliament approved the relevant article in the budget.
Meanwhile, Berri had started the Parliament session by reading a resignation submitted by Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi.