Lebanon News

Mansour first Lebanese official to visit Gaza

Arab foreign ministers hold a meeting upon their arrival in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.

BEIRUT: Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour visited Gaza Tuesday in a show of solidarity with its people in the first ever visit of a Lebanese official to the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mansour was among a delegation of Arab foreign ministers including Arab League Chief Nabil Elarabi who visited Gaza, which has been under air assault by Israel since last Wednesday. Israeli jets have pounded the impoverished enclave, killing 135 Palestinians and wounding more than 1,000.

Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza have been firing rockets into Israel, and four Israelis have been killed.

As international diplomats raced to the region to broker a deal, a senior Hamas official said Tuesday that a cease-fire agreement was imminent.

“This [visit] is the least that Arab foreign ministers can do for this land ... that has been resisting Israeli occupation,” Mansour told reporters at Rafik Hariri International Airport before departing for Cairo, from where the ministers headed to Gaza.

“But we hope that something more than the visit of a number of Arab foreign ministers to Gaza is done, such as steps that are more useful to the Palestinian people that help in lifting the siege,” Mansour said.

“We have been witnessing a tragedy for 64 years and the time has come to stand united,” he added.

“History changes and the resolutions [Arab states make] are not changing: We want new resolutions that are implemented.”

Mansour said the delegation would closely inspect the situation in Gaza. “We will examine the tragedy that people are witnessing there.”

The foreign minister said that that Arabs should provide both financial and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Asked whether Israel would attack Lebanon after the Lebanese Army’s discovery Monday of two rockets prepared to be launched at Israel from the south, Mansour said that Lebanon would confront any Israeli attack with “appropriate means.”

“I affirm that Lebanon will face this with appropriate means and Israel knows this very well,” Mansour said.

“There have been continuous Israeli threats against Lebanon and Israel knows well that threats against Lebanon are useless,” he said.

“We are the side respecting international resolutions, particularly [U.N. Security Council] Resolution 1701 and Israel is the side ... violating Lebanon’s airspace, water and air.”

Separately, the Future parliamentary bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri strongly condemned Israel’s “barbaric” assault against Gaza, saying it again highlights the “enemy’s nature that is based on aggressiveness, criminality and usurping rights.”

Convening under former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, the bloc saluted the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and its leaders in Palestine, particularly in Gaza.

“[The bloc] declares that it has decided to launch initiatives to express solidarity with our Palestinian brothers to help them in their struggle in cooperation with the March 14 coalition,” the bloc said in a statement.

The statement called for the immediate halt of Israeli aggression and for opening border crossings with Gaza to allow aid in.

It also urged the international community to take measures to deter Israel and punish it for its repeated crimes against the Palestinians.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 21, 2012, on page 3.




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