LEBANESE Al-Manar Television on 6 August carried a live news conference given by Nabih Birri, Speaker of the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies and leader of the largely-Shi’ite Amal Movement, in which he rejected the UN draft resolution on the Lebanon.
Birri began with an opening statement.
He said: ‘I meet with you today because I do not believe that Israel, as compensation for its defeat or non-triumph and also as a prize for its massacres in every spot and corner, and its record, which is full of violations of human rights in Palestine or Lebanon, should be offered all these things in the draft UN resolution, which they say is now ready for the vote.
‘In fact, they say in their contacts that, regardless of whether you object to it or not or work for it or not, it is your fate.
‘So I wanted to remove any ambiguity and explain our position, which is not my position or the position of the Amal Movement, Hezbollah, or any group, party or community, but the position of Lebanon – the whole of Lebanon without any exception.
‘The draft in its first operative clause speaks about cessation of hostilities. There is a difference, as you know, between hostilities and cease-fire.
‘What does this mean, O Lebanese? What does this mean, O Arabs? What does this mean, O brothers all over the world?
‘It means the continued presence of Israel in the places where it is now. If it has advanced to a certain hill – as it has not occupied any of the steadfast southern towns but certain spots – these places will give it the chance to stay there pending further talks. Therefore, what does this mean?
‘Why do we reject so long, as they are talking about one week between the first phase and second phase? I say, because it clearly means returning to the pre-24 May 2000 period without the April Understanding this time.
‘In other words, butchering civilians would be permissible, and every operation carried out by the resistance – and it is the natural right for the resistance to carry out operations against any soldier and any occupation on Lebanese territory – and therefore the replacement will be without the April Understanding.
‘Moreover, before April we were covered by Resolution 425, which was in the interests of Lebanon. But in the new situation, if this draft resolution is issued as it is, it would mean that we would have moved from a resolution which was in the interest of Lebanon to a resolution which is against the interest of Lebanon and without the April Understanding on top of that.
‘Therefore, the situation would be open to massacres.
‘Second: The resolution severs the Shabaa Farms from the solution. Therefore, in one way or another, although Israel has repeatedly admitted that this land is not part of Palestinian territory and therefore it cannot claim it, it says that the land is either Syrian or Lebanese.
‘And since Lebanon says unanimously that this land and this ownership is Lebanese, what did we say in our Lebanese memo or the speech delivered by Prime Minister Fu’ad al-Sanyurah, which was adopted by all the Lebanese, as we will mention later?
‘We said: let the UN receive the land, and since the matter deals with the technical point of delineation and liberation, we will wait for this delineation and liberation.
‘Third: The draft resolution speaks about security arrangements to be followed by a demilitarised zone in the southern Al-Litani River; in other words, in the area from the Blue Line to the Al-Litani.
‘What do security arrangements mean? They mean quite simply the cancellation of the Armistice Agreement with Israel, which is now awaiting a comprehensive peaceful solution in the region.
‘It is therefore a war operation. It is as if there is an attempt to impose peace on Lebanon and Israel, which would mean ruining the internal situation in Lebanon and creating a problem between Lebanon and its neighbours and Arab brothers.
‘Fourth: the international forces authorised by the UN. What does authorised mean? Quite simply, it means that the forces will not be under UN command. There are international and multinational forces under their own commands, like NATO and others.
‘There are also forces that follow the UN, like UNIFIL (UN Interim Force in Lebanon) and there are forces between the two; in other words they are authorised by the UN but in a sense not under the command of the UN.
‘Fifth: The international force they are speaking about will be subject to the seventh chapter; in other words, it will have the right to use force.
‘In other words, Israel will not return backwards behind the Blue Line or withdraw from Shabaa Farms. It will be given all these things, and demands will be made on Lebanon.
‘When the draft resolution speaks about foreign forces in Lebanon, what are these foreign forces?
Obviously, Israel is not the one meant. Since our Syrian brothers have already left Lebanon, the one meant is our Palestinian brothers.
‘The draft resolution uses the word ‘elimination’. Just imagine, expressions close to the language of massacres are being used, even in draft resolutions!
‘These are some of the main observations which we must make concerning what is taking place, because it is being said that this draft resolution will not be subject to amendment or change and so on; as if, as I said earlier, this is our fate and we must accept it.
‘All the envoys who visited us, especially the French, Americans, the British and others, did not object to any of the proposals made by the Lebanese government; in other words the proposals unanimously approved by the Council of Ministers, or the speech delivered by Prime Minister Fu’ad al-Sanyurah in Rome and which the Council of Ministers adopted verbatim on the basis of a cease-fire and the seven points which exist here in Arabic and English.
‘I personally asked the French and the British: Which proposal do you object to here?
‘If sovereignty is required, the proposals speak about sovereignty. If the Shabaa Farms must not be received immediately, the Lebanese will not receive them immediately.
‘UNIFIL forces will remain in them until the time of delineation and liberation. If Lebanese legitimacy must exist, I say we welcome reinforcing the role of the UNIFIL forces and increasing their number and weapons.
‘We also welcome the Lebanese army – we cannot say welcome here as it is the landlord – even if it has been reinforced with thousands and tens of thousands of troops so as to be in the region.
‘How strange! If all these things that exist in the seven-point memo, and they speak about the Armistice Agreement also amending this agreement to conform with the internal situation; if all these things are rejected, no one should ask us why they are rejected. There is only one justification, which we will speak about now.
‘Since Israel did not triumph in the war, as you all know, and was given all this, what would happen to us if it had triumphed?
‘What would they have given it? We always hear that the USA is concerned about Lebanon, the Cedar Revolution, and also about the cedar, the oak and so on. They are challenging us even in our Arabic literature.
‘Fine, we have observed that the Council of Ministers and the Chamber of Deputies with its bureau, leaders, committee secretaries and presidency are in favour of what is now known as the seven-point government plan presented by Prime Minister Al-Sanyurah.
‘If the Islamic Summit, the spiritual leadership under Patriarch Sfayr, all the national parties and forces, and all the 14 February, 14 March, 8 March forces and any other forces approved it; if all these people approved it without any exception, where is Lebanon’s interest in your cancelling everything and producing these things, which I am sure – and I am responsible for my words – that Israel did not ask for at all.
‘Of course, this is in addition to other points, which I will not pause at now, as the bias is obvious even in the language of this draft resolution.
‘I address the world and say that before the Arab ministers arrive tomorrow, is there a practical Arab stand? We do not want Arabs to be involved in the war or to participate in the fighting. However, Arabs have their means and power, which can be translated politically and in a thousand ways. They are a formidable force that is taken into serious consideration. Are they ready to adopt a stand to save Lebanon and the implementation of these seven points?
‘Or is this wound required to remain open, this south to remain bleeding, and this Lebanon to remain paying the price? Is it not time that this Lebanon unloaded its cross? I am waiting for an Arab answer. I hope very much that the Security Council draft resolution will be revised in a manner that conforms to the seven points, because Lebanon, the whole of Lebanon, rejects any talk and any draft resolution outside the framework of these seven points. Thank you.’
In answering questions Birri explained: ‘This resolution opens the door of war forever. What will take place in practice? They want cessation of hostilities. The Israeli army will remain on the hill and the resistance will exist everywhere, which will undoubtedly mean that there will be operations against this army which is not on its territory.
‘The occupier is here. The Israelis will go back to renewed shelling. Therefore, we will not reach the next phase, nor will we reach the dispatch of an army, UNIFIL, emergency or multinational forces. Even their plan will be affected. This matter will lead to internal sedition.’
He added: ‘One of the main reasons for requesting a cease-fire is the return of the displaced persons. There are one million displaced people.
‘But wouldn’t these one million people after one or two months become the biggest cause of an internal Lebanese sedition? Won’t the schools open in one or two months? They will open. How can the situation remain this way? Let me ask: If we left the Israelis on the hill and the resistance existed everywhere, as we said, and there was an operation, how can I, the inhabitant of Mays, Ayta al-Sha’b or any of these towns, take the risk and return, regardless of whether my town is far away from or near the area of hostilities, let alone those from Bint-Jubayl and Al-Khiyam, which were destroyed?
‘At any rate, the destruction is continuing. But I am asking: how can this take place in practice? . .
‘How can I return them when the Israeli is barricaded on the hill and the resistance men exist? How can I return, and in what way? If one has not yet been killed or wounded, must he be killed? Is the massacring that has taken place not enough?’