Hizbullah, FPM Hit Back at Soaid over Lassa, Slam 'Sectarian Incitement'إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement snapped back Sunday at March 14 General Secretariat Coordinator ex-MP Fares Soaid over the land row in Lassa, with Change and Reform bloc MP Simon Abi Ramia describing him as one of the politicians “who cannot survive unless they see blood.”
“Disputes in the area started in 1992 and there had been disagreements over land since 1936. Back then there was no FPM, General (Michel) Aoun or (Hizbullah chief) Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah,” Abi Ramia said at a press conference.
And in 1994, “an attack took place against Lassa's bishop and the surveying process stopped, but back then the region's MPs were not Simon Abi Ramia, Walid Khoury or Chamel Mozaya,” the lawmaker added.
“On November 15, 2013, (then-interior) minister (Marwan) Charbel went to Lassa and announced the start of obligatory surveying, and we were reassured by the developments,” Abi Ramia went on to say.
He stressed that since November 2013 the FPM and Hizbullah have been calling for legal measures against anyone committing any violation, noting that a panel had embarked on surveying the land lots before its work was suspended.
Clarifying the current dispute, Abi Ramia said “a Lassa resident called Yasar al-Meqdad has an official document that had been certified by Jbeil's district officer, the union of Jbeil's municipalities and Lassa's mayor.”
“When he started the construction works in 2011, the (Maronite) diocese said his document was not based on any legal ground and lawsuits were filed. Seven hearings were held but they were not attended by all parties and the construction was halted,” the MP added.
“In recent days, Yasar al-Meqdad sought to build a ceiling, the thing that contradicts with the Lebanese judiciary's rulings, and as far as I know, the decision (to build the ceiling) was not taken by Hizbullah's Shoura Council,” Abi Ramia said sarcastically.
He revealed that he communicated with Hizbullah and its MPs and "they stressed the need to implement the law."
"Everything that is being said about a cover from the FPM and Hizbullah for the violation is incorrect," Abi Ramia emphasized.
On Friday, Mount Lebanon Public Prosecutor Judge Claude Karam had launched a probe into allegations that residents began constructing a building on a property claimed by the Maronite church in Lassa, amid a judicial order to demolish everything built on the property Number 61, which Yasar al-Meqdad has used.
Real property Number 61 is claimed by the Maronite Patriarchate.
On Saturday, Soaid said Hizbullah and Aoun are to blame for any repercussions that might arise from the land row.
“There is an attempt to turn the dispute into a sectarian and political one. We have politicians in Lebanon who cannot survive unless they see blood. This incitement to violence will not change the political situation in Jbeil, as we're not currently engaged in an electoral battle," Abi Ramia said on Sunday, referring to Soaid without naming him.
"The political orientation of Jbeil will not change and let no one try to intensify the sectarian rhetoric," the MP underlined.
"How did they address the encroachments on land when they used to go to Shiite villages where they would be given a hero's welcome?" Abi Ramia added, in an apparent jab at Soaid.
The MP said he will hold meetings over the issue with Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi and Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil.
"We need to resume the panel's work, begin the surveying and finalize it in a decisive manner ... The panel must put an agenda for finalizing the issue and must write security reports about those who are obstructing its work. Those who obstruct its mission must be penalized," added Abi Ramia.
"We won't allow anyone to harm coexistence ... The law is the only framework that can preserve coexistence in Jbeil so that we can enjoy security and peace," he underlined.
Abi Ramia reassured that "we won't allow anyone to encroach on the Maronite Patriarchate's lands," noting that "whoever makes a violation must be stopped through the law."
"Everyone saw how we prevented demographic changes in several regions and this is our normal course in Lassa. We won't allow anyone to exploit 150 square meters of cement to stir a civil war across the 10,452 square kilometers," the MP added.
"The surveying of land in Lassa won't take more than six months if there is serious work," he pointed out.
Meanwhile, Hizbullah voiced its first official comment on the issue, with politburo member Ghaleb Abou Zainab noting that “the country is facing an ethical crisis in its political life.”
“Going too far in violating all norms for the sake of petty gains -- even if that came at the expense of coexistence and the unifying history of Jbeil and the neighboring areas – will only lead the person doing that to further deterioration and decline,” Abou Zainab added.
“What you have heard about Lassa from some parties are pure lies, as the case is an individual affair that should be addressed according to the applicable legal norms,” he said.
Abou Zainab noted that Hizbullah has informed all the relevant parties that it is still committed to the agreement that was reached with the patriarchate and that it “does not cover anyone.”
“We tell the 'sedition hunter' that what he's doing will not boost his popularity and that this incitement will not make him reach the parliament,” Abou Zainab added, in an apparent reference to Soaid.
“Hizbullah, the FPM and the people of Jbeil and the neighboring areas will remain advocates of coexistence who pride themselves with their cooperation, and they will only elect those who call for Lebanon's unity and coexistence as their representatives in parliament,” Abou Zainab stressed.
But Soaid hit back at the Hizbullah official's remarks, saying “Abou Zainab is telling me that I won't return to parliament unless I bow to Hizbullah's policies.”
“I say take Jbeil's MPs and we'll have Jbeil's dignity, pride and coexistence,” Soaid added, in remarks on his Twitter account.