| 6 December 2023, Wednesday |

Mikati: Not in anyone’s interest to open South Lebanon front

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has intensified his contacts with international and regional officials to preserve Lebanon’s stability and avoid the eruption of a war with Israel.

He stressed that it was in “no one’s interest to take a gamble and open the southern Lebanon front because the Lebanese people can no longer support more burdens.”

He held separate talks in Beirut on Monday with visiting French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna and Saudi Ambassador Waleed Bukhari.

During the meetings, Mikati stressed that the Lebanese people are united in supporting the Palestinian people.

He reiterated his rejection of a war erupting between Lebanon and Israel, warning that Lebanon was in “the eye of the storm” and the entire region was in a “difficult position.”

“No one can predict what may happen,” he added. “No one can predict anything, but Israel will certainly increase its provocations.”

Mikati revealed that he has held contacts with the American administration, United Nations chief, the French and Turkish presidents, the Italian and Qatari prime ministers, and the foreign ministers, Jordan, Britain, Canada and Türkiye, who is expected in Lebanon on Tuesday.

Mikati said the talks were being held away from the media to avoid raising more concerns among the people.

“Some have wondered why we haven’t called for the High Defense Council to convene. The council is headed by the president of the republic. Should we create even more tensions in the country?” he wondered given that Lebanon has been without a president for almost a year.

“Instead, I called on the heads of security agencies to meet at cabinet,” he went on to say.

The PM renewed his call for the election of a president, noting that Israel formed a new government within hours of the Hamas operation, “so the Lebanese parties should unite to elect a head of state and form a new government to demonstrate their keenness on the nation’s interests.”

“Is there anything more dangerous than the current situation to prompt everyone to abandon their conditions and elect a new president as soon as possible?” he asked.

“Some have wondered who holds the decision to go to war. In the current circumstances, we are working for peace. The decision to go to war lies with Israel. We must deter its provocations and prevent tensions,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, opponents of Hezbollah have continued to underline their rejection of dragging Lebanon to war with Israel.

Kataeb MP Elias Hankash said Hezbollah “has the final say over the fate of the country and it controls the decision to go to war.”

“Lebanon is on the edge of the abyss because the state does not have this power. Hezbollah has destroyed the state, sovereignty and institutions,” he added to local radio.

The fate of Lebanon and the Lebanese lies in Hezbollah’s hands. “We are confronted with a historic moment and Lebanon is incapable of taking the appropriate decisions to impose its authority and deploy its army in all its territories to prevent it from being dragged to war with Israel,” he lamented.