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Israeli General Downplays Hizbullah Border Tour

The head of the Israeli army's strategic division has said that Hizbullah's border show of force on Thursday was "more blunt" than usual, but that the group's "violations" of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 were “nothing new.”

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Hariri Affirms Commitment to Resolution 1701, Says Army 'Legitimate' Force to Defend Border

Prime Minister Saad Hariri during a visit to south of Lebanon on Friday affirmed commitment to UN resolution 1701 and stressed that the Lebanese army is the sole legitimate force entitled to defend the country's border.

“We thank our troops and tell them that they are, and only they, are the legitimate force in charge of defending our border,” Hariri told reporters.

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Gemayel: Hizbullah's Border Tour Tarnished State's Image

Kataeb party leader Sami Gemayel said a tour organized for reporters by Hizbullah along Lebanon's southern border to brief them about the defense measures set up by Israel in recent months “has insulted and tarnished the image of the State," media reports said.

“The tour organized by Hizbullah's military command along a border area under resolution 1701--which stipulates that the region should be free of any military force other than UNIFIL and the Lebanese army-- is considered an insult to the Lebanese State's standing and a new threat to Lebanon's relationship with the international community,” said Gemayel.

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Report: Hizbullah's Border Tour 'Three-Dimensional' Challenge

A tour organized by Hizbullah for reporters along Lebanon's southern border to brief them about the defense measures that Israel has set up in recent months, was highly criticized by several parties with some describing it as a challenge, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday.

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Report: Salameh's Term is Likely to be Renewed

The majority of Lebanon's political parties have agreed on the renewal of the term of Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, and the debate is focusing on whether the renewal will be for three or six years, al-Akhbar daily reported on Friday.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Speaker Nabih Berri, MP Walid Jumblat, Hizbullah and the majority of the political forces said they support an extension of Salameh's term, unnamed sources told the daily.

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Hizbullah Organizes Border Tour for Reporters on Israel's Defense Measures

Hizbullah on Thursday organized a tour for reporters along Lebanon's southern border to brief them about the defense measures that Israel has set up in recent months.

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Hamadeh Wonders Why Cabinet Refrains from Meeting

Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh wondered in a statement on Thursday about the reasons that make the cabinet refrain from holding sessions to tackle pressing issues, while the committees meet to discuss a new electoral law for the upcoming polls, the National News Agency reported.

“Why does not the cabinet meet to tackle the people's livelihood issues and ease the country's facilities, meanwhile many committees are working and conducting communications to reach agreement over a new electoral law?" NNA quoted Hamadeh as asking.

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Report: Electoral Negotiations Almost Paralyzed

Twenty-two days separate Lebanon from the end of a one month time period, in accordance with a presidential decree issued by President Michel Aoun on April 12 that suspended the parliament, paving way for additional negotiations on a new law and avoiding another parliament term extension, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Thursday.

“However, although the measure was supposed to give momentum at all levels to formulate a solution for the electoral-political crisis, the electoral machine engines seem to have been rusted,” said the daily.

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Qassem Adheres to Proportional Law, Says Suggested Law Versions Must be Complete to Decide on

Hizbullah deputy chief Sheikh Naim Qassem reiterated adherence to the proportional representation system in a single electoral district, noting that in order for the party to decide on any other electoral format it must see the full version, al-Akhbar daily reported on Thursday.

“Proportionality in a single electoral district is the rightful and fair law that provides proper representation and reflects the popularity of the parties at the national, partisan, sectarian and family levels,” said Qassem in an interview to the daily.

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Berri: Budget Draft Referred to Committee, Wage Scale on Parliament's Agenda

Speaker Nabih Berri said on Wednesday that the long-awaited wage scale file is not included in the draft state budget that was submitted to the parliament today, but assured that it is on the agenda of the upcoming legislative session on May 15, media reports said.

“The salary scale is listed on the agenda of the parliament meeting scheduled on May 15,” Berri was quoted as saying.

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