BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri ruled out over the weekend excluding mention of the “resistance” in the new Cabinet’s policy statement but voiced readiness to offer alternative proposals to help end the impasse over the divisive clause.
“The resistance is a red line ... it is not possible at all to give up on the resistance or exclude it from the policy statement,” Berri told visitors over the weekend.
“If it wasn’t for the resistance, the south would not have been liberated,” he said.
The speaker said parties opposing the resistance clause should “live for a few days in the south,” particularly in areas near the border with Israel, “and then give their opinion, which would be more pragmatic and objective.”
“There is no need to discuss removing the resistance clause because its letters and meanings and the sacrifices of the martyrs are more precious than all the gold of this world and they are worth the world,” he said.
The speaker was alluding to the recent row between President Michel Sleiman and Hezbollah over the latter’s “Army, people, resistance” tripartite formula.
On Friday, Sleiman implicitly blamed Hezbollah’s support for the resistance formula for the delay in approving the Cabinet’s policy statement.
“All sides should not cling to wooden [inflexible] equations that hinder the release of the [Cabinet’s] policy statement,” he said in an address in Kaslik, north of Beirut.
Hezbollah hit back at Sleiman, saying the president needed “specialized care” because he could no longer differentiate between “gold and wood.”
The unprecedented level of tension between Sleiman and Hezbollah has cast a pall of gloom over the tough job of a seven-member ministerial committee tasked with drafting a policy statement. The committee will for eighth time later Monday.
Berri said the spat between Hezbollah and Sleiman meant the chances of producing a policy statement were dim but added that he was willing to offer proposals to resolve the dispute over the policy statement if rival parties expressed readiness to agree to a solution on the resistance clause.
“We are not optimistic about the meeting of the ministerial committee working on the policy statement and its meeting today [Monday]: the atmosphere is not encouraging after President Sleiman’s speech and Hezbollah’s response to it,” Berri said.
“We have many proposals we can make over the resistance clause provided that there will be genuine readiness from various sides to reach a breakthrough on this point,” he added.
The March 14 coalition has rejected including Hezbollah’s tripartite formula in the policy statement and insisted the ministerial statement be based on the Baabda Declaration, an agreement by Lebanese parties to distance Lebanon from the regional turmoil, particularly Syria.