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Geagea says Dialogue with Hezbollah futile

In this Friday, Sept. 23, 2011 photo, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea arrives at a meeting in Bkirki, north of Beirut, Lebanon. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said Friday engaging in National Dialogue with Hezbollah to resolve the issue of its arsenal would be futile, adding that the resistance group has never abided by decision arrived at in previous all-party talks.

During a news conference at his Maarab residence, Geagea also slammed Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s threats against Israel, saying that the Lebanese had not authorized his group to set the country’s foreign policy.

“Hezbollah is not willing to discuss its arms. Therefore, on what grounds should we participate once more in Dialogue sessions?”Geagea asked during the televised news conference.

“We support Dialogue in principle but not one that has produced nothing but lies and cheating,” he added.

Geagea quoted several Hezbollah figures, including its leader, of voicing outright opposition to discussing the issue of its disarmament and that party members issued threats should there be any attempt to do so.

The LF leader, who is one of the opposition’s leading figures, also slammed Hezbollah’s “violation” of decisions arrived during previous National Dialogue sessions, including agreeing on the formation of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which was established in 2007 to try those behind the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

“In 2006, we agreed during a Dialogue session to form an international tribunal aimed at revealing the truth behind the assassination of Hariri ... but Hezbollah lawmakers withdrew from the government when the decision was referred to Parliament,” Geagea said.

He also noted that the 2008 Doha Accord, which ended street clashes in Beirut between supporters of Future Movement and Hezbollah, had stipulated the formation of a national unity government and banned any attempts to obstruct it.

“And in 2010 with the excuse of the issue of false witnesses, the March 8 ministers resigned and forced the collapse of [former Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s] Cabinet,” Geagea added.

Tension between rival Lebanese political parties intensified following the Oct. 19 assassination of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, with the opposition declaring a boycott to government work. Most opposition groups also oppose a resumption of National Dialogue, which was relaunched earlier this year by President Michel Sleiman.

The March 14 coalition blames Syria for Hasan’s killing and also holds the Lebanese government responsible for providing “political cover” in the case. The opposition insists that there can be no dialogue before a neutral government capable of overseeing the 2013 polls is formed.

Sleiman resumed all-party talks in July to discuss a national defense strategy to benefit from Hezbollah’s arsenal.

Hezbollah insists that its weapons should remain under its authority in collaboration with the Army while its rivals in the March 14 say all arms should be under the jurisdiction of the state.

Geagea, whose party boycotted the resumption of Dialogue altogether earlier this year, said the talks were held even as several political figures were being assassinated.

“A primary look at the situation of Dialogue will show you that it was ongoing while several security incidents were taking place as well as assassinations, including the unfortunate events of May 2008,” he said.

He added that the March 14’s participation in such Dialogue sessions would imply that “we are covering and supporting in one way or the other actions outside the Dialogue table.”

The LF leader voiced a loss of trust in Hezbollah for the multi-party to resume.

“We no longer have trust in them to engage in talks,” he said.

Geagea, a staunch critic of Hezbollah, also criticized Nasrallah for warning that the resistance party’s rockets could cover all of Israel in the event the latter decided to attack.

Addressing Nasrallah, he said: “You are not authorized to take such stances. The president and the government have such authority from the Lebanese people but you don’t.”

In his televised speech last week, Nasrallah said that his party’s missiles would rain down on Tel Aviv and other cities if the Jewish state attacked Lebanon.

“Israel, which was shaken by a handful of Fajr-5 rockets during eight days – how would it cope with thousands of rockets which would fall on Tel Aviv and other [cities] ... if it attacked Lebanon?” Nasrallah said.

 

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