Hizbullah Puts Miqati at Loggerheads with International Community

An announcement by Hizbullah that it rejects the funding of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will likely put Premier Najib Miqati at loggerheads with the international community after he made several pledges that Lebanon would fund the STL.

The international tribunal is set to try ex-Premier Rafik Hariri’s suspected assassins.

Miqati should now choose between upholding his pledges or resigning, ministerial sources told Beirut dailies published Friday.

They said the prime minister instructed cabinet ministers loyal to him not to discuss the issue of the funding in the media after he promised U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and Security Council member states during his visit to New York last month that the Lebanese government will pay its $32 million share.

The new tumult came after al-Akhbar daily reported on Thursday that Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told his visitors that the STL will not be funded. But at the same time he called for protecting the government and maintaining its unity.

This stance is not subject to any bargaining, the newspaper said.

The Shiite party totally rejects the funding, which would be seen as recognition of the court if it was carried out, sources close to Hizbullah said.

Government unity is not more important than the confrontation with the court, they added despite Nasrallah’s alleged call to safeguard the cabinet.

But Miqati held onto his stance on Thursday, telling the National Audio-Visual Media Council that paying Lebanon’s share to the tribunal will serve the country and Hizbullah.

The court will continue to operate whether Lebanon paid its share or not, he said.

“If we paid, we will spare Lebanon harm because there are many who harbor ill-will against Lebanon and the resistance,” the head of the council, Abdul Hadi Mahfouz, quoted the prime minister as saying.

Under U.N. Security Council resolution 1757, Lebanon is obliged to cover 49 percent of the STL’s running costs.

Conflicts over the court triggered a political crisis in January that brought down the government of Saad Hariri, who had been prime minister since 2009.

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