Human chain unites protesters in Lebanon

Anti-government protesters form a human chain as a symbol of unity, during ongoing protests against the Lebanese government, on the Mediterranean waterfront promenade, in Beirut, on Sunday. (AP)
Updated 28 October 2019

Human chain unites protesters in Lebanon

  • Maronite Patriarch urges change, warning: ‘Our political system is democratic, not dictatorial’
  • Protesters are blocking roads and brought the country to a standstill

BEIRUT: Linking arms and waving flags, protesters in Lebanon formed a human chain on Sunday stretching from Akkar in the north of the country to the capital Beirut in the south amid continued protests at government inaction over the country’s spiralling economy. Demonstrators in Tripoli, Batroun, Jbeil and Jounieh opened roads to allow people to join the human chain or gather in city squares. Protest groups included families and children with the national flag drawn on their faces.
In Martyrs Square in the heart of Beirut, protesters have started selling water, coffee, tea and traditional food items, while others have set up a large tent where people gather to share their opinions and ideas.
The largely peaceful protests were interrupted by violent clashes on Saturday night that left seven people injured in Beddawi in Tripoli after the Lebanese army fired on protesters with rubber bullets.

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Protesters are demanding government resignations, including the controversial foreign minister and FPM leader Gebran Bassil, and also want Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to quit.

Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri ordered Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun to “conduct a swift investigation into the incident,” and promised to protect protesters on the third day of protests.
Meanwhile, two deputies, President Michel Aoun’s son-in-law Shamel Roukoz and leading businessman Neemat Frem, announced they would leave the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) in the wake of the protests. The two MPs won their seats in the last parliamentary elections in 2018.

Ten years ago, before getting involved in public affairs, I warned of social collapse, but we could not avoid it and this is what exploded.

Neemat Frem A businessman

In a TV interview, Frem said: “Ten years ago, before getting involved in public affairs, I warned of social collapse, but we could not avoid it and this is what exploded.”
Roukoz tweeted on Oct. 24: “Do not ignore the root of the problem: There is no trust in authority today. Let this government leave immediately. The attempts to patch things up and revive it will not work. We need a government of reliable, trustworthy specialists.” His wife, Claudine, tweeted on the same day: “Early elections, better for today and tomorrow.”
Protesters are demanding government resignations, including the controversial foreign minister and FPM leader Gebran Bassil, and also want Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah to quit.
Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi on Sunday warned against “dealing with peaceful protesters in a superior, reckless and politicized way.”
He supported the “formation of a new government in every respect, smaller and impartial, formed by accomplished and respected individuals who are experts and agreed upon beforehand to prevent a gap, in order to work on implementing the reform paper announced by the prime minister and accepted by protesters.”
Al-Rahi said: “Our political system in Lebanon is democratic, not dictatorial. The people are the source of authority and no one is canceling people, imposing their view or their will on the people. Do not ignore this national revolution so that it does not stray from its positive national path, because of the hired infiltrators vandalizing while wearing sheep’s clothes.”


Palestinian leader roundly rejects Trump peace plan

Updated 40 min 2 sec ago

Palestinian leader roundly rejects Trump peace plan

  • Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation
  • Calls for Palestinians to resist the plan through 'peaceful, popular means'

RAMALLAH: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said “a thousand no's” Tuesday to the Mideast peace plan announced by President Donald Trump, which strongly favors Israel.
“After the nonsense that we heard today we say a thousand no's to the Deal of The Century," Abbas said at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Western-backed Palestinian Authority is headquartered.
He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in east Jerusalem.
“We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians would resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means.”
The plan would create a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank, but would allow Israel to annex nearly all of its settlements in the occupied territory. The plan would allow the Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of east Jerusalem but would leave most of the city under Israeli control.
The Islamic militant group ruling Gaza rejected the "conspiracies" announced by the U.S. and Israel and said "all options are open" in responding to the Trump administration's plan.
“We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass. So, all options are open. The (Israeli) occupation and the U.S. administration will bear the responsibility for what they did," senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said as he participated in one of several protests that broke out across the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
Protesters burned tires and pictures of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Abbas held an emergency meeting with other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to discuss a unified response to the plan. Abbas had rejected the deal before it was announced saying the U.S. was hopelessly biased toward Israel.
Jordan meanwhile warned against any Israeli "annexation of Palestinian lands" and reaffirmed its commitment to the creation of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, which would include all the West Bank and Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warned of “the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as annexation of Palestinian lands.”
Jordan and Egypt are the only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.