BIKFAYA: Kataeb (Phalange) Party official MP Sami Gemayel said Tuesday Hizbullah was more likely to overthrow the Cabinet than resort to force in a bid to end Lebanon’s cooperation with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is probing the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Though the Kataeb party’s Central Committee coordinator did not rule out the possibility that Hizbullah might resort to force if Prime Minister Saad Hariri does not withdraw his support for the UN-backed court, Gemayel said he believed Hizbullah would attempt to guarantee a parliamentary majority to form a government tasked with ending cooperation with the STL.
However, Gemayel warned that given divisions among the Lebanese over the STL, any minor problem could spark dangerous incidents on a larger scale.
“Hizbullah wants to assume power either peacefully or by force, the goal is one,” the eloquent Metn MP told The Daily Star at his family’s mansion in Bikfaya.
He added that Hizbullah and its allies likely hold a parliamentary majority after Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt’s realignment along Syria and its allies.
Asked whether the Kataeb party would accept to endorse a compromise over the STL in line with Hizbullah’s demands, Gemayel ruled out the possibility of accepting a compromise and added that his party would rather take action in such an event.
Gemayel’s older brother Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated in November 2006.
“Political compromises could be discussed but a compromise over the STL and justice will not be even remotely considered,” Gemayel said. “As a political authority we have no right to bargain over judicial issues, otherwise, impunity will continue to exist.”
“We are against any compromise at the expense of justice and we will confront it. The issue is not a political one to us. We have a martyr. We cannot but adopt such a position,” Gemayel said.
Speaking ahead of the 75th anniversary of the Kataeb party’s founding Saturday, Gemayel elaborated on the party’s plan to strengthen state institutions as part of a comprehensive future plan to develop Lebanon’s political regime.
He said the Kataeb party initiated discussions over the development of the political regime to pave the way for future serious negotiations among the Lebanese but only after settling the dispute over major issues like Hizbullah’s arsenal.
“We cannot wait until major problematic issues are resolved to start considering the development of Lebanon’s political regime,” he said. “Rather, we have to be ready to come forward with a proposal and engage in serious dialogue when the issue of Hizbullah’s weapons is resolved and the dispute over the STL comes to an end,” he said.
However, Gemayel added that a national conference aimed at reconsidering the Lebanese Constitution was not possible in the presence of an armed party, a reference to Hizbullah. “You cannot sit around a dialogue table and negotiate a new pact with other parties if one is carrying a weapon,” he said.
Gemayel said his party’s vision for a new political regime was not restricted to federalism, though it remains one of the options that could be adopted.
“We are calling on the Lebanese to examine political regimes adopted in countries with multicultural communities to learn from their experience and try to apply what is in Lebanon’s best interests,” he said. “We call for the consideration of all regimes.”
The 30-year-old MP said a centralized Lebanese state has proved its failure as the country continues to endure repetitive political crises or wars every few years.
“The country could not be more divided than it is today as each community in turn has attempted throughout history to seize control of the largely centralized state authority by relying on foreign support,” Gemayel said in reference to the failure of the centralized state model.
Gemayel added that the adoption of a strategy of “positive neutrality while recognizing Israel as an enemy state” as well as implementing decentralization would largely diminish the struggle over the centralized state authority in a bid to put an end to the continuous cycles of violence and political crises.
“Decentralization will allow citizens to hold their local councils accountable, which is impossible under the current regime that allots power to groups on confessional basis, groups that will always remain in power irrespective of whether they meet the citizens’ basic needs or not,” he said.