Sami Gemayel: Campaign against Bkirki Unjustified, Evokes Civil War Eraإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Kataeb Party Central Committee Coordinator MP Sami Gemayel on Tuesday condemned what he described as the “unjustified campaign” against Bkirki over the issue of the Lebanese who fled to Israel, saying “it indicates that some parties are still insisting on evoking the war files.”
“This campaign is unjustified and it indicates that the files of the civil war have not been shelved yet and that some parties are still insisting on evoking files that prevent the Lebanese from closing ranks,” Gemayel was quoted by his visitors as saying, according to a statement distributed by Kataeb's media department.
“Media campaigns against Bkirki will not resolve the problem of the Lebanese who were forcibly exiled to Israel,” Gemayel added, noting that “the only way to overcome this file is through reconsidering the draft law that we had submitted to parliament.”
The lawmaker said this law would allow "an entire generation of Lebanese citizens to return to their country with their heads held up high, instead of living and growing up away from their land and in an alien environment."
In June 2012, Gemayel had proposed a draft law involving an amnesty for the Lebanese who fled to Israel but the bill is yet to be discussed by parliament.
“Anyone who has reservations over the patriarch's moves must discuss them with him in person and behind closed doors,” Gemayel said on Tuesday, rejecting “attacks on this national post.”
“This historic patriarchate was and will remain a national leadership above all suspicions,” the MP added.
On Friday, al-Rahi said the Lebanese state must not deal with those who fled to Israel in 2000 as “traitors” and “criminals.”
During a visit to the Israeli village of Isfiya near Haifa, al-Rahi called for a “reconciliation” in the issue of those who fought alongside Israel during its 22-year occupation of southern Lebanon.
“We are not collaborators. I did not see any Lebanese collaborating against Lebanon,” he added.
“Had they fought against Lebanon? Had they fought against the Lebanese state? Had they fought against Lebanese institutions?” al-Rahi asked rhetorically.
Israel has invaded Lebanon several times, occupying part of the country's territory for 18 years until it withdrew in 2000 following armed resistance. In 2006, a 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.
Trained, financed and armed by Israel, the South Lebanon Army (SLA) battled Palestinians and Lebanese fighters during the occupation of southern Lebanon.
Al-Rahi had arrived in Israel earlier in the week to join a brief visit by Pope Francis.
The Maronite Patriarch was condemned by media close to Hizbullah, which said traveling to arch-enemy Israel would be a "sin." His critics have also said the pilgrimage implies normalization with Israel at a time when the two countries remain formally at war.