BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said that he does not expect any agreement to be reached on the ministerial statement before the March 14 commemoration ceremony in remarks published Friday.
“I do not expect an agreement over the policy statement would be reached before the March 14 commemoration today,” Jumblatt told Al-Akhbar daily, referring to the March 14 coalition's event slated to be held at Biel in downtown Beirut.
Jumblatt also said that the March 17 constitutional deadline for drafting a ministerial statement is not binding.
“The deadline is not definitive, and it seems that it is possible to miss it," he said.
However, when asked about his opinion on Speaker Nabih Berri's announcement that he would consider the Cabinet resigned if the deadline passes without drafting a ministerial statement, Jumblatt said that he was not a legal expert.
“I am not an expert on the constitution. Let us see what happens,” he said.
The Cabinet is set to meet for an open session later in the afternoon in an attempt to break the stalemate over the ministerial statement after Thursday’s session failed to yield any tangible results.
The new 24-minister Cabinet needs to agree on a ministerial policy statement before the government can receive a vote of confidence in Parliament. However, the two main factions disagree on how to incorporate the resistance in the ministerial statement,
The Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance insists that the policy statement stipulate that Lebanon and the Lebanese have the right to resist Israeli occupation and defend the country against any Israeli aggression, effectively legitimizing Hezbollah’s arsenal.
For its part, the March 14 coalition argues that resistance against Israel should take place under the authority of the state and that Lebanon, rather than the Lebanese, reserves the right to resistance.
Jumblatt said that the ministerial statement must acknowledge the Lebanese people's right to resist against Israel.
“In all the countries of the world, the people resist whenever there is an invasion of their country's territories,” he said. “In Lebanon we are disagreeing on this matter. Who must resist? Is it Lebanon or the Lebanese people?”
“It is normal that the people resist,” he added.
Meanwhile, Speaker Nabih Berri said his proposal could salvage the government, expressing hope that Premier Tammam Salam would not resign before Monday.
“If there are good intentions and readiness to reach a settlement, then this proposal should be accepted by March 14,” Berri told As-Safir daily.
Berri and Jumblatt had earlier prepared a formula over the policy statement.