BEIRUT: A senior Hezbollah official said the party would uphold an agreement with the Maronite Church over disputed land in the village of Lasa, saying last week’s controversy had been aimed at sowing division between the party and its Christian allies.
“What you have heard from some about Lasa is slander,” Ghaleb Abu Zeinab, a member of Hezbollah’s political council, said at a ceremony Sunday.
“The issue is an individual case that is being handled legally, and we have informed all those concerned that we remain in agreement with the patriarchate,” Abu Zeinab said.
Mount Lebanon Prosecutor Claude Karam Friday ordered the demolition of an unauthorized building after members of Hezbollah returned to work on a site in Lasa, which falls on a plot of land the Maronite patriarchate claims to own.
Security sources told The Daily Star at the time that Hezbollah’s local military commander, Yasar Hasan Miqdad, backed by around 50 party members dressed in special uniforms, entered the disputed area late Thursday night and began working, nearly two years after a court ruling banned any construction.
The incident occurred days after a dispute between Hezbollah and the Maronite patriarch over the latter’s recent visit to Jerusalem.
But Abu Zeinab indicated that the dispute was being used politically by Hezbollah’s rivals.
“To those who seek out strife, what you are doing will not increase your popularity, and this incitement will not help you reach Parliament,” he said.
“Hezbollah and the Free Patriotic Movement and the people of Jbeil and its suburbs will continue coexisting and remain proud of their cooperation,” he said.
The long-standing dispute over the Lasa land ownership dates to 2011.
The village has been a place of coexistence between Christians and Shiites since the early 19th century.
Disputes over land that was claimed by the Maronite Church as part of its endowment in the village subsided when Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai sponsored an agreement in 2013 to resurvey the area.