Lebanon vows to prevent Israel from building concrete wall in 13 areas

Special Lebanon vows to prevent Israel from building concrete wall in 13 areas
A Lebanese soldier standing at Fatima's Gate in Kfar Kila on the Lebanese border with Israel looks toward Israeli soldiers on February 10, 2018. (AFP / Ali Dia)
Updated 13 February 2018

Lebanon vows to prevent Israel from building concrete wall in 13 areas

Lebanon vows to prevent Israel from building concrete wall in 13 areas

BEIRUT: Lebanon's top officials vowed to prevent Israel from building a concrete wall in 13 areas when they met on Monday.

The meeting at Baabda Presidential Palace brought together Prime Minister Saad Hariri, President Michel Aoun and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and they discussed defending Lebanon against "Israeli violations" ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to Lebanon on Thursday.

Hariri did not say anything about the outcomes of the meeting, but stressed that the consultations will continue so that all Lebanese stances are unified with regard to any violation.

On the decision made by the Supreme Council of Defense and the Cabinet, he explained that they aim to unify their stances against any Israeli violations. The Supreme Council vowed last Thursday to “face any act of aggression against Lebanon’s sovereignty and national dignity with determination.”

The Cabinet, which met on the same day, stressed “the importance of uniting for successfully overcoming this phase.”

During their meeting, Aoun, Berri and Hariri discussed Israel’s continuous threats, the concrete wall that Israel aims to build off the southern border, and its claimed ownership of Block 9 in Lebanon’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The meeting was attended by Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon’s General Security, and Brig. Gen. Malek Shamas, coordinator of the Lebanese Government to the UNIFIL, who joined a few hours after attending a tripartite military meeting at the UN position in Ras Al-Naqoura.

The press office of the Lebanese presidential palace said: “Shamas briefed the Lebanese officials on Israel’s stance regarding Lebanon’s objection to the concrete wall before eliminating Lebanon’s reservations in 13 areas along the Blue Line and demarcating Lebanon’s international borders.”

Hariri announced that they “have discussed the proposals made by David Satterfield, the principal deputy assistant secretary for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, during his visit to Beirut.”

After Satterfield’s departure from Lebanon, the Lebanese media quoted ministerial sources who attended his meetings with Lebanese officials, saying, “Lebanon has reservations about some of Satterfield’s proposals because of his bias toward Israel, which does not reflect an intention to provide balanced mediation.”

Lebanese media outlets pointed out that “Satterfield called for preventing Hezbollah from transferring advanced weapons from Syria to Lebanon and storing them in the Bekaa Valley. He also demanded ruling out Hezbollah’s arms from any settlement because they violate international resolutions, especially 1701 and 1556.”

Satterfield said Washington was willing to mediate in the dispute over Block 9, according to the media outlets, and that the US looked forward to improving Lebanon’s conditions through proposing the former US mediator, Frederic Hof, who, in 2012, mediated in the maritime border dispute over a triangular area of sea of around 860 square kilometers that extends along the edge of Block 9, in which Lebanon prepares to explore gas and oil.

Al-Markazia News Agency quoted political sources saying that “at the end of the tripartite meeting, Lebanon agreed to cooperate with any mediation provided Lebanon does not waive any of its oil rights.

“In addition to that, it was agreed that the US secretary of state will be informed during his visit that Lebanon refuses to allow Israel to build its wall on the 13 areas at the southern border.”

Al-Markazia reported that the tripartite meeting in Ras Al-Naqoura, presided by the UNIFIL Commander Major General Michael Beary, “focused on the implementation of Resolution 1701, which regulates stability on both sides of the border,” and that “the Lebanese delegation, headed by Brig. Gen. Malek Shamas, supported their stand with pictures, maps, and documents that confirm Lebanon’s ownership over the 13 disputed areas.”