Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Wednesday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.
Public sector loses “patience:” Pay raise today or paralysis
[Hezbollah’s] “plane” breaks sound barrier over government
Political disquiet over the “Ayoub” plane continued to dominate the domestic scene while a parliamentary subcommittee decided during its first meeting Tuesday to discuss the electoral system and districting with the least possible clamor.
Meanwhile, the Union Coordination Committee [a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees] announced its agenda for strikes and sit-ins to be implemented successively if the government failed to refer salary increases to Parliament for approval.
While waiting for the government to decide what action to take over the necessary funding for a salary scale, the “Ayoub” plane broke the sound barrier over the Cabinet during its meeting at the Grand Serail yesterday when Prime Minister Najib Mikati took a significant stance.
Mikati took a swipe at Hezbollah saying that “effectively confronting repeated Israeli violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty – be it political, diplomatic, or security-related –would be inefficient in the absence of national consensus.”
Ministerial sources in the March 8 coalition told As-Safir that Mikati expressed his personal opinion and not that of the government.
As-Safir has learned that Cabinet Minister Mohammad Fneish intervened quietly to explain that the Ayoub plane mission is part of strengthening the resistance’s capabilities and the deterrence the face of Israeli aggression.
Mansour backs down, Mikati to ministers: I give orders
Strike over pay raise [delay] Thursday, Cabinet won’t succumb to threat
Berri, Siniora meeting touched on parliamentary elections
Kheireddine to An-Nahar: Government did not back down and does not want to impose taxes
It seemed clear that the positions of President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Najib Mikati regarding the Syria crisis, the reconnaissance plane and the resistance weapons have determined the general framework for government action and the positions of ministers following Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour’s repeated unilateral stances with no government consensus.
Mansour backed down Tuesday on comments made during an interview with An-Nahar Sunday in which he said the “reconnaissance plane was not a breach of resolution 1701 and Lebanon shoulders the responsibility for Hezbollah’s stance.”
Mansour claimed that his remarks were “grossly distorted” and that the content was “mixed up.”
An-Nahar has learned that a meeting took place in Parliament Wednesday between Speaker Nabih Berri, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and former Prime Minister [and head of the Future bloc] Fouad Siniora that focused on the Syria crisis and its implications on Lebanon.
The talks were followed by a one-on-one meeting between Berri and Siniora who discussed the many proposals slated for an electoral law.
State Minister Marwan Kheireddine, in response to a question regarding the planned UCC strike, told An-Nahar that the government won’t back down on its decisions.
“The government does not want to weigh down the economy and put burdens on the treasury,” he said, adding the Cabinet is looking for ways to avoid taxes.
Government threatened by crippling public sector strike Thursday if salary scale is delayed
Cabinet will convene Wednesday in a session dedicated to look into funding for a pay scale with no signs that it could exit from the crisis.
On the eve of the meeting, the Union Coordination Committee met and announced a series of actions – starting with a general strike Thursday – in the event of government’s failure to approve the referral of the pay scale to Parliament as promised.
The general strike would affect private and public schools and educational institutes, ministries, municipalities and all public departments.
94,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the number is expected to rise
1,000 cars daily carry Syrian refugees to Lebanon, government has no solution to stop refugee [influx]
Lebanon will soon wake up to a major problem: as Palestinians number about 3 million, 1 million of whom have been displaced, the Syrian population is 24 million.
Iraq does not allow Syrian refugees into its territory with the exception of 15,000 refugees who have relatives in Iraq.
As for Jordan, the number of Syrian refugees has reached 150,000, although Jordanian authorities have asked the Jordanian General Security to limit the entry of refugees.
In Lebanon, 94,000 Syrians are officially registered as refugees. This figure does not include Syrian refugees who have the ability to rent homes and live in Lebanon. Those are estimated at 200,000 spread out across Lebanon.