BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Thursday Lebanon was committed to United Nations Security Council resolutions, particularly 1701, and warned against the risks of challenging the legitimacy of international institutions and their decisions.
Hariri made his remarks during the opening of the 14th Regional Coordination Mechanism meeting held at the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) headquarters in Beirut.
“Our participation in this meeting today at the United Nations House in Beirut aims to underline Lebanon’s commitment to the international legality and its decisions, and especially the UNSCR 1701 which is breached daily by Israel,” he said.
“It is the perfect opportunity to stress and confirm my support to the work of the UN in Lebanon and in the region … the role that you can play to safeguard its political and economic stability; stability, which would, in turn, reflect positively on the region,” Hariri added.
Dismissing concerns over the safety of UN staff in the country, among them UN peacekeeping forces in south Lebanon, Hariri said “rest assured that you will always remain welcome in Lebanon.”
Some March 8 figures have lately subtly hinted the United Nations Interim Forces for Lebanon (UNIFIL) could be targeted in attacks if the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the premier’s father, releases an indictment implicating Hizbullah members.
Hinting at demands by Hizbullah to relinquish the Lebanese Cabinet’s support for the STL, Hariri said the Lebanese were “aware of the risks of becoming a state that stands against the international community and international legality.”
Hizbullah has condemned the STL as a US and Israeli tool and warned Lebanese officials and citizens against cooperating with the court, describing such cooperation as aiding an Israeli attack against the resistance.
The adjournment of a Cabinet meeting Wednesday cast doubts over the stability of Hariri’s government, as it showed March 8 groups could block any Cabinet meeting if the issue of “false witnesses” was not referred to the Judicial Council.
Hariri’s Future Movement MP Oqab Saqr slammed Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas, a representative of the Free Patriotic Movement in the Cabinet, saying FPM leader MP Michel Aoun should be questioned rather than Hariri for taking orders from Israel.
Nahhas had accused Hariri during Wednesday’s heated Cabinet session of succumbing to pressure from Israel to block the probe of “false witnesses” and its referral to the Judicial Council.
Hariri’s media office also denied pro-March 8 newspaper reports that the prime minister had telephoned US State Department official Jeffrey Feltman during the Cabinet meeting or that he mentioned accusations that Muslim militants were behind his father’s killing.
March 8 sources told The Daily Star that in the upcoming period there would be attempts to buy time before the release of the indictment, as Syria and Saudi Arabia attempt to pressure Hariri to refute any indictment against Hizbullah members.
On another note, Hariri said at the ESCWA headquarters that the Lebanese held on to the Taif Accord as a guarantee to national unity. But he warned that the international community’s efforts to promote developmental projects in the region would be in vain if the Arab-Israeli conflict was not addressed.
“But allow me to speak to you frankly. Much of the work you do – much of the assistance you provide, much of the resources you dispense and the funds you seek to raise, are to address the direct or indirect effects of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” the premier said.
“The lack of a comprehensive and just peace is leading to a rise in extremism and unfortunately this new trend is becoming more popular among our youth than getting an education or a decent job,” he added.