BEIRUT: The attacks on Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai over his controversial visit to Israel are cruel and an assault on the national coexistence formula, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Monday.
During a phone call to congratulate Rai on safely returning to Lebanon after his trip to the Holy Land, Geagea expressed his disapproval of the campaigns waged against the patriarch, calling them “cruel and overstepping the institutions ... of Lebanon,” according to a statement from the LF leader’s office.
Geagea added that in some places the negative campaigns “even obstruct the pact of co-existence.”
Rai’s trip to Israel and the West Bank has received repeated criticism in Lebanon, especially from Hezbollah who view the visit as a “historic mistake” and the beginning of normalizing relations with Israel.
The patriarch has also been condemned for suggesting that the families of former members of the South Lebanon Army – who colluded with Israel during its 22-year occupation of the country – should be able to return home and not be considered agents of the enemy.
Geagea also told Rai of his severe dissatisfaction with parliamentary blocs that have been blocking the presidential vote and the two discussed what should be done to prevent a possible vacancy.
They agreed to keep channels open to try to thwart the present gridlock, with Geagea saying that “a vacancy would not be tolerated” in the highest post in the country.