Jumblat: Impact of Regional Disputes on Christians Made al-Rahi's Trip to Jerusalem Inevitable

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblat defended on Monday Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi's recent trip to the Holy Land, questioning the uproar created over the visit and the failure of the majority of the parties to defend him.

He said in his weekly editorial to the PSP-affiliated al-Anbaa website: “Al-Rahi's trip was inevitable given the negative repercussions the security and political developments in Palestine, Syria, and Iraq are having on the region's Christian population.”

The trip emphasized the need for the people to remain attached to their homeland regardless of the hardships they are facing, remarked the MP.

“The patriarch made very bold and brave stands in this regard,” he noted.

“His visit gave Palestine's Christians and Arabs a glimmer of hope during the critical time they are enduring. He also succeeded in avoiding Israel's exploitation of the trip,” added Jumblat.

“Al-Rahi's trip was strictly pastoral and religious,” he stressed.

Moreover, the PSP chief questioned the criticism directed against the patriarch for meeting several members of the South Lebanon Army during his visit, saying: “It should be noted that those members come from all religions and sects.”

“The families and children of the so-called collaborators were forced by the Israeli occupation to cooperate in one way or the other with the enemy, so they should not be labeled as such,” he said.

“The boycott of visits to Palestine over the decades has cleared the way for Israeli practices that have displaced the Palestinian people, created an artificial entity, and eventually led to the current reality due to the Arab defeats over the years,” continued Jumblat.

“The Palestinian people have been left to lead the struggle alone to obtain their legitimate rights,” he stated.

Furthermore, he voiced his rejection of the normalization of ties with Israel, adding however that new approaches with Palestinians should be adopted in order to motivate them to remain in their homeland.

The MP later received a telephone call from al-Rahi, who lauded him on his stance on his visit to the Holy Land, said the National News Agency.

Commenting on the Interior Ministry's measures to curb the flow of Syrian refugees in Lebanon, Jumblat hailed the step, especially in light of the recent provocations made during the Syrian presidential elections.

“This is a logical and objective measure that has been appropriately timed,” he remarked.

The Interior Ministry announced on Saturday that Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations should not to return home as of June 1, warning they will lose their refugee status in Lebanon.

Saturday's decision comes three days before Syria is to witness the first presidential elections since the eruption of the ravaging civil war that has torn the country in the past three years.

On Wednesday and Thursday, thousands of Syrians streamed to their embassy in Yarze near Beirut to vote in the presidential polls, in what Damascus' Lebanese and Syrian critics have described as a prearranged “show of force.”

The midweek, poorly organized vote triggered a suffocating traffic congestion in the area, stranding thousands of commuters in their cars amid an excruciating summer heat.

The March 14 alliance strongly criticized the elections at the embassy, calling for dropping the refugee status of those whose life is not in danger and who are constantly traveling across the border.

Social Affairs Minister Rashid Derbas later announced on Monday that the Interior Ministry's decision “will take effect as of today.”

“The security forces at the border will be informed to refuse entry to any refugee arriving from a secure region in Syria,” he added.

“The majority of the Lebanese parties view this issue as a Lebanese one, not a political or discriminatory case,” he said.



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