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Jreissati Defends Bassil and Military Court Ruling on al-Hajj

State Minister for Presidency Affairs Salim Jreissati on Friday threw his support behind Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, who has been criticized by several parties in recent days.

“After the Cabinet's approval of the draft state budget, some people returned to the only refrain they're good at: Jebran Bassil, only because he is filling the political life with activeness, communicating with people on the ground and inquiring about their concerns,” Jreissati tweeted.

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'We Won't Give Anything to Israel', Says Bassil on Border Demarcation

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil on Friday stressed that Lebanon is clinging to its rights regarding the demarcation of the land and maritime borders with Israel, noting that “the talks that will be held are in Lebanon's interest.”

“We won't give anything to Israel. We will recover a usurped land and we will gain sovereignty over a stolen land or a maritime zone we consider to be Lebanese,” Bassil said during a joint press conference with his Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell in Madrid.

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Saudi Embassy Denies Report on Bin Salman Visit to Lebanon

The Saudi embassy in Beirut on Friday denied a media report claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman intends to visit Lebanon in June.

“What is being circulated by some electronic and news websites about a visit to Lebanon next month by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is baseless. We call on journalist brothers to verify information before publishing,” the embassy's press office said in a statement.

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Jumblat Says Citizens are Victims of 'Security Agencies Duel'

Progressive Socialist Party leader ex-MP Walid Jumblat on Friday lamented that “ordinary citizens” seem to have become the victim of the clash of security agencies.

“The Itani-Ghabash-Hajj farce reminds me of the farce of Khalil Sehnaoui, who was accused of collaboration (with Israel) before being released after an agonizing ordeal because he also was a victim of the duel of agencies, the power struggle and the conflict among those who are in power,” Jumblat tweeted.

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Lebanon Aims to Cut Budget Deficit to 4% by 2023

Lebanon hopes to slash its public deficit to less than 4 percent of GDP over the next five years, a top adviser said Friday, as part of measures to unlock key aid.

The tiny Mediterranean country -- one of the most indebted in the world -- last year notched up a deficit of 11.5 percent of the GDP, the World Bank says.

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Mashnouq from Dar al-Fatwa: Bassil Sabotaging Balance in Country

Beirut MP and ex-interior minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq on Friday lashed out at Free Patriotic Movement chief and Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil, accusing him of “sabotaging balance in the country.”

“This deterioration in the issue of the balance of powers must stop and the issue must be settled by those concerned with it. If we go back to the remarks that were voiced against (Prime Minister Saad) Hariri, (Speaker Nabih) Berri, (Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid) Jumblat, (Lebanese Forces leader Samir) Geagea and others, where would that take the country?” Mashnouq warned after meeting Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan at Dar al-Fatwa.

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Aoun: Investigations into Irregularities Will Take Legal Course

President Michel Aoun on Friday said that approving the country’s 2019 state budget helps achieve financial regularity, which will be given priority in the upcoming draft budget of 2020.

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Gemayel Criticizes New 2019 State Budget

Kataeb party chief Sami Gemayel on Friday criticized the 2019 state budget saying it will trigger an “economic stagnation” and affect the people’s “purchasing power.”

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Mideast Protests in Iran, Lebanon, Elsewhere Mark 'Jerusalem Day'

Iranians have begun rallies across the country to mark Quds, or Jerusalem Day, which will see demonstrations across the Mideast as the Trump administration tries to offer an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The annual protests — also being held in Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere — are held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan.

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Hariri at Mecca Summit: Arab Solidarity is the Path to Stability

Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed at the Mecca Summit that Arab solidarity remains the strongest weapon in the hands of Arabs, Hariri’s press office said in a press release on Friday.

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