President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, met Deputy Parliament Speaker, MP Elias Bou Saab, today at the Presidential Palace.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab asserted that the American mediator in demarcating the southern maritime borders, Amos Hochstein, will visit Lebanon at the end of this week, without this meaning that the visit will carry the solution.
“However the visit will be an additional positive step towards a solution, and we must know that this issue is thorny and complex, but it is moving in the right direction” Deputy Speaker Bou Saab said.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab also briefed President Aoun on the contacts that are taking place with Hochstein on this file, and said that “September will be decisive, and if it turns out that the Israeli side will remain stubborn and not wanting a solution, there are other options for Lebanon, because we are all keen on preserving Lebanese rights by all means and at the appropriate time”.
On the other hand, the Deputy Speaker stressed that the Supreme Judicial Council and its head, Judge Souhail Abboud, should bear the responsibility for not taking a decision on the formation of the Court of Cassation, as it leads to obstruction of many issues, files and solutions.
Deputy Speaker Bou Saab also criticized the attack that was launched on the Presidency of the Republic and President Aoun, inquiring about the timing and whether there was a deal to give innocence to the corrupt and hold the presidential term fully responsible.
After the meeting ended, Deputy Speaker Bou Saab made the following statement:
“Today, I briefed His Excellency the President on the recent contacts that took place with the American mediator, Amos Hochstein, especially that he will visit Lebanon as scheduled, at the end of this week. The contacts did not stop during the past two weeks, despite all the inaccurate and misplaced words that were said in the media. For example, the signing of an agreement during the past week, or the work of one company with the Lebanese and Israeli parties, or a complete rejection by the Israelis of the Lebanese proposal or conception, especially after Hochstein’s meeting with the President, Premier and Speakerat Baabda Palace.
All this talk is inaccurate, contacts are still in place, and Hochstein’s visit to Beirut will be preceded by visits he will make to European capitals and to Israel.
I also briefed His Excellency the President on a subject that may mean a third party, which is the “Total” company, that can help Lebanon in the solution, and His Excellency will make contacts to help in this matter. There are still outstanding points that need solutions. Therefore, the expected visit of Hochstein, does not mean that it will carry the final solution, but it will be an additional positive step towards the solution, and we must know that this issue is thorny and complex, but it is moving in the right direction. Communicationswill increase during the current month, and the level of communication will rise. We hope to reach a result. We do not wish to be overly optimistic, nor do we say that we are pessimistic. Things are going in the right direction, and we have to keep hope that the file will be finished within not too long.
The other issue that I want to talk about is related to the Court of Cassation, as there is no reason not to move this file, specifically with the Supreme Judicial Council, and there is a responsibility on the judges concerned, especially on the first president, as it is not acceptable not to take a decision that must be taken by them. While the file has been in place for about four weeks, people are complaining about the disputes between politicians, and today we have doubts that even those concerned with the judiciary are responsible for procrastinating, delaying and not giving files priority. There are detainees who are prisoners and imprisoned and subjected to injustice, and some of them suffer from accusations as if they are criminals, while most of them are innocent, and it turned out that there were actually prisoners and the judiciary released them as if it was an apology, so what was the testimony for them? It is a mistake for these people, the judiciary can release others after they have spent two years in prison, and this is unacceptable.
During the formation of a panel of the Court of Cassation, which is able to decide on appeals, positively or negatively, and obstructing the formation of this panel is directly borne by the Supreme Judicial Council. We still have hope that the issue will be resolved, and that the council will take its decision, whatever it is, to form the commission in accordance with the decree in force, which stipulates the appointment of 11 chamber presidents in addition to the president of the Supreme Judicial Council. Four weeks after no decision has been made, there is a big question mark as to who benefits from this obstruction.
As for the third issue, I began with His Excellency the President, by denouncing the attack on the Presidency of the Republic, specifically President Michel Aoun, who asked me not to give the issue too much attention and to engage directly in issues of concern to the Lebanese. But I would like to say that the attack took place in the memory of the martyrs, and we respect all the martyrs, but is the occasion really the appropriate place to launch an unjustified attack that blames all the corruption that the Lebanese state has witnessed for this era? Is it like giving innocence for all the corrupt, to be given on this occasion?
Is there a new deal to hold this presidential termfully responsible? There is a suspicious timing. The Lebanese, who do not want to hear such talk, should know that those who make these accusations, whoever they are and to which side they belong, whether they have a political dispute with the President’s team or with the term, or from friendly sides, are creating an internal crisis among the segments of Lebanese society, because those who launch these accusations know that President Aoun has his fans who will defend him. Is this what is required? This talk increases the rift and problems among the Lebanese, while the citizens desire more unity among themselves to find a way out of the existing crises. I was hoping that this had not been said in this circumstance, because it is political talk and to settle scores that may be old, but I do not think that it is in the interest of whoever launched this attack to open the books of the past”.
Questions & Answers:
Question: What about your mediation with Speaker Berri regarding the frozen decrees?
Answer: “This mediation is still in place, and I received an answer from Speaker Berri, and the solution to this basket is complete, and what hinders this solution is what I said about the Supreme Judicial Council, which is one of the matters included in this basket. Therefore, there is no justification for this council and President Souhail Abboud not to take a decision. It is true that their decision is independent, but they cannot refrain from taking a decision that they have for four weeks, and that is why I hold them responsible today”.
Question: There is talk of Hochstein’s demands for guarantees that Hezbollah’s threats will not be activated. Are there any financial compensationdemanded by Israel for giving up the Qana field?
Answer: “I mentioned that what is being said in the media is inaccurate and misplaced. Those familiar with the file know this, but citizens are affected by what they read in the media. For example, Hochstein told me that the Israeli enemy suffers from a contradiction in what is being said in the Israeli media. Some of them say that the agreement will be signed within a week, and some of them assert that the Israeli response was negative to the Lebanese demands. This means that there is conflicting news that some deliberately broadcast in the media on both sides, so I hope that no one will take into account these rumours that are being broadcast.
There is an American commitment to give the issue a high priority, and the statement issued by Baabda Palace two days ago was clear. We have received a clear message that the Americans are committed to continuing to work on this difficult file. There are many complications that are being solved one after the other. That is why we say that things are going in the right direction. If we were a day or a week late, nothing happened. Things are progressing at an acceptable pace, and the month of September will be decisive, and if it turns out that the Israeli will remain stubborn and do not want a solution, there are other options for Lebanon and this presidency in particular, because we are all keen to preserve Lebanese rights by various means and at the appropriate time.
As for the demands not to carry out the threats, especially those related to the resistance, no one asked us for anything in this regard, and we did not hear anything about it”.
President Aoun received the Chairman of the Parliamentary Economy, Industry and Planning Committee, MP Michel Daher.
After the meeting, MP Daher said that he conveyed “The cry of the productive sectors about the situation in the country and the paralysis suffered from”.
The meeting also tackled the customs dollar, the situation of the public finances, and the salaries of workers in the public sector and the military apparatuses, in light of the continuous deterioration of the exchange rate of the Lebanese pound vs. the dollar.