Bassil Says Shebaa Attack Occurred on Lebanese Soil, Warns of Divisionإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil accused on Thursday Israel of “manipulating stability and using the takfiri attacks to change the balance of powers,” considering that the resistance's operation in the Shebaa Farms occurred on Lebanese soil.
“The ministerial statement states the liberation of the Shebaa Farms and the occupied Lebanese territories with all the possible means,” Bassil said in an interview with al-Akhbar newspaper.
He said that the resistance carried out the attack in retaliation to the death of Lebanese in operations carried out by the Jewish state.
Two Israeli soldiers were wounded on Tuesday in a bombing that targeted an army patrol in the Shebaa Farms in the South.
Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation at Israel's assassination of a party military expert as he was dismantling an Israeli spy device in September.
The minister stressed that Lebanon is committed to U.N. Security Council resolution 1701, saying: “Dozens of Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace, soil and maritime border are monthly recorded and Lebanon has the right, unanimously, to resist, which is a right stated by international laws.”
Israel routinely sends F-16 fighter planes over Lebanon, in violation of resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 war.
Bassil warned of a political division between the cabinet members, calling for unity in order to combat Israel and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Asked about the growing international coalition that was resolved to confront the Sunni extremists rampaging in Iraq and Syria, the Free Patriotic Movement official pointed out that the combat against ISIL “didn't reach a serious level.”
“Any attempt to contain ISIL is a disastrous endeavor,” Bassil told al-Akhbar.
On the Iranian pledge to offer Lebanon military assistance, the minister called on officials to deal with the matter “in a manner similar to that used with other grants.”
“The political rift shouldn't deprive us from such assistance.”
The head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, who made a one-day visit to Beirut last week, said that Tehran will provide military assistance to Lebanon.
Bassil said that ties between FPM chief Michel Aoun and Progressive Socialist Party MP Walid Jumblat are “flourishing due to the common opinions regarding the threats facing Lebanon.”
“Together we might be able to gather the conflicting parties.”
He also stressed that the “ties with (head of al-Mustaqbal Movement) Saad Hariri haven't been cut.”
“The dialogue between us had many positive outcomes, in particular the cabinet, but we reached a standstill in our dialogue,” Bassil added.
Asked about his meeting with Syrian FM Walid Muallem on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly meeting in New York, the FPM official said: “Our diplomatic ties with Syria are not cut.”
It is considered a rare meeting between a Lebanese official and a representative of the Syrian government.
“There are common concerns that we need to discuss with the Syrians, without taking a part in their local conflict, in specific the Syrian refugee crisis.”
Bassil called on the government to lay the grounds of a serious plan to decrease the number of refugees.
“There are practical measures that we can take but we're not,” he told al-Akhbar, listing several options such as “preventing those who are not refugees from entering Lebanon and removing the refugee status from those who don't deserve it.”
The minister reiterated his opposition to the establishment of camps for the displaced, describing Syrian refugee camps on Lebanese territories as “illegal.”
“We are against the veiled naturalization of Syrians,” Bassil stressed.
Hosting more than 1.3 million Syrians fleeing their country's three-year war, Lebanon is home to the highest number of Syrian refugees in the region, and also to the highest refugee population per capita in the world.
Reports said that the cabinet is mulling the establishment of camps in buffer zones between the Lebanese border crossing al-Masnaa and Jdeidet Yabous crossing on the Syrian side.