Press round-up for Monday, June 18th, from the morning edition of Lebanon’s An-Nahar, As-Safir, Al-Diyar, and Al-Anwar Newspapers.An-Nahar
Opening stories in bold:- “Sfeir warns of ‘two governments and two Lebanons’; Lahoud refuses to sign parliamentary decree.” Sfeir in his Sunday sermon: some dare to think of two governments, two presidents and two Lebanons as if they have forgotten the bitter experiences of the last decade. He implicitly criticized politicians by observing how each interprets the constitution according to his own wishes. Lahoud: stressed the urgent formation of a national unity government. Refuses to sign parliamentary by-elections decree because the “government is illegitimate.”
- “Unidentified rockets defy UNIFIL and strike Israel.” Those responsible for the launching of the three rockets are suspected to be Palestinian. Incident constitutes first major security violation since the end of last year’s summer war, a breach of Resolution 1701, and in outright defiance of UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.
- “Hezbollah denies any responsibility; Olmert refrains from retaliating.”
- Siniora on the launching of missiles: A failed attempt to stir up doubts and undermine the capacity of the army and UNIIFIL in protecting the South.
- Jumblatt discusses with Swiss envoy the possibility of resuming dialogue among Lebanese.
- MP Boutros Harb: Government is determined to hold by-elections
- MP Nabil Nicola: We will not participate in by-elections without president Lahoud’s signature.
- Hezbollah: The ruling authority wants more crisis
- Wadih al-Khazen: Unity government before by-elections
- Editorial (Rosanna Bou Mounsef): Amid talks about one “maestro” controlling developments on both the Lebanese and Palestinian track, will the “Palestinian collapse” of what was referred to as a national unity cabinet between Fatah and Hamas serve as an early warning for Lebanese parties?As-Safir
Opening stories in bold:- “Lahoud and Sfeir to expedite the national unity cabinet… Siniora heads to Paris on the 26th of this month.” Lahoud and Sfeir agreed on the need for a unity government as soon as possible. On the by-elections, Sfeir refuses crossing over the president’s prerogatives for fear of establishing a precedent. Al-Safir sources in Paris: Siniora to visit French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday 26th.
- “Political confrontation expands amid absence of Arab solutions.”Arab delegation headed by Amr Moussa arrives to Lebanon tomorrow in hope of facilitating a solution to the Lebanese crisis. No illusions however among the delegation, as everyone is convinced that Lebanon’s solutions lie outside the country and not within it.
- “Army clears the new al-Bared… and 2000 Palestinian civilians move to the ‘safe quarter.’” On the 30th day of clashes, reports indicate that the army is about to finalize its military operation as it is currently besieging two remaining strongholds for Fatah al-Islam militants. 2000 civilians moved to the safe and secure quarter controlled by mainstream Fatah in the south west of the camp.
- “Israel proposes arms embargo on Syria; Katyucha on the settlement of Keryat Chemona on the eve of Olmert-Bush meeting.” Olmert to discuss with President Bush during his visit to the US a proposed arms embargo on Syria.
- Council of Ministers: The murder of Eido raised to the judicial Council; Calling on UN Secretary-General to include Eido’s and Gemayel’s assassination in the mandate of the international investigation commission; Approved the parliamentary by-elections decree and sent it to Baabda for the president’s signature.
- Baabda confirmed its refusal of the parliamentary by-elections decree. Lahoud will not register a constitutional violation and cross over his prerogatives.
- Hariri: the formation of any second government is tantamount to “strife” and a “free gift to Israel.”
- Editorial (Talal Selman): Because of the security and political crises they are experiencing, the Lebanese, in addition to the Palestinians and Iraqis have no time to follow up on the indications of the “urgent” meeting between US President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert - be it in its timing or schedule, or in the expected results that these “two warriors against the Arabs” might reach. Al-Diyar
Opening stories in bold:- “First breach of Resolution 1701 through launching katyucha rockets on Israeli settlements”
- “Hezbollah denies any responsibility; UNIFIL begins its investigations to determine the involved party [assailants]”
- “Israel accuses the Palestinians; Confusion among the ranks of international forces in the South”
- Mass ceremony at UNESCO on the first anniversary of the establishment of Wiam Wahab’s “Lebanese Unification Movement.”
- Arab League Secretary-General Moussa, calls for unifying and coordination positions domestically and regionally to resolve the crisis.
- “The Fatah al-Islam phenomena is in its final days… its leadership is dead, wounded or missing and the suffering of civilians is over.”
- The “Commander” [Gen. Michel Suleiman] supervised the ongoing operations and field measures at al-Bared. Asserts that the decision to eradicate terrorists is final and indivisible.
- Editorial (Al-Diyar Editorial Staff): The coming weeks will be critical in settling on whether Lebanese officials will take historic and courageous decisions to salvage their country from its ongoing crisis. As such, upcoming presidential elections will be a crucial juncture, as what precedes them may well indicate whether developments will head toward some middle-ground or toward dangerous and costly alternatives for all.Al-Anwar
Opening stories in bold:- “Government and Army firm on pursuing those responsible for launching the Katyucha rockets and revealing the objective of the operation”
- “General Sleiman at Nahr al-Bared…Assailants [Fatah al-Islam] headquarters in camp destroyed
- Hamadeh: Forming a second government is unconstitutional and the president of the republic cannot dissolve the current cabinet.
- Majority preparing for an Arab tour to warn of the “Somalian-ization” of Lebanon
- Hezbollah’s Raad: Neither does parliamentary by-elections nor its results aid in resolving the crisis. No way out but through genuine national partnership.
- Editorial (Fouad Daaboul): Lebanon is witnessing a race toward its “political solution,” between “Arabization” and “Internationalization.” This is illustrated by a half Arab initiative on the one hand, and a half French initiative on the other.