Biden “Emphasized Importance” of Resolving Lebanon-Israel Maritime Dispute in Lapid Call Bassil says FPM Ready to Support a Presidential Candidate ‘Around Whom There Would Be an Agreement’ UN Condemns Restrictions on Peacekeepers in South Lebanon
Biden “Emphasized Importance” of Resolving Lebanon-Israel Maritime Dispute in Lapid Call On Wednesday, President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid and “emphasized the importance” of resolving the maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon, according to a White House readout of the call. Israeli officials have shared that US energy envoy Amos Hochstein will visit Beirut and Jerusalem next week to try and reach a deal. [Axios]
Anyone who was wondering whether Lebanon remains a priority for President Biden and his administration has to look no further than his August 31 phone call with Israeli PM Yair Lapid. Calls between heads of state are carefully prepared with a list of issues vetted for discussion by both sides in advance of such calls. This attention to Lebanon is due in part to the Lebanese American community, which is gaining increased credibility as a trusted partner with Washington policymakers for their advice and counsel. It’s a positive step forward given the priority that President Biden has placed on the importance of discussing the maritime border issue with Israel. This should increase the chances of Prime Minister Lapid taking action in support of an agreement.
-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel
Bassil says FPM Ready to Support a Presidential Candidate ‘Around Whom There Would Be an Agreement’ Gebran Bassil, leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, stated he is ready to support a presidential candidate “around whom there would be an agreement.” He also dismissed the notion of the cabinet temporarily assuming the powers of the presidency by stating his party would “not accept in any way that the incompetent Mikati government assumes the powers of the president”. [L’Orient Today]
This week marks the official start of the presidential race. Encumbered or enabled by the sectarian nature of Lebanon’s political parties, the vacancy, by tradition, will be filled by a Maronite Catholic, thus preserving the power balance defined over decades. Parliament should agree on the next office holder by October 31, a deadline that has been violated in the past. Thus Bassil’s statement that his FPM party will hold out until they can support a pliable candidate is altogether expected. Here’s hoping that wisdom, not pique, will determine which candidate succeeds.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
UN Condemns Restrictions on Peacekeepers in South Lebanon On Wednesday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning attacks, harassment, and restrictions against UN peacekeeping forces in Southern Lebanon. It also called on Lebanon to dispatch more ground and naval forces to the region as it renewed the mandate of UNIFIL for another year. [AP]
The resolution to extend the UNIFIL mandate for another year is a relief for the Lebanese government but it comes with strong conditions. Most notably, the UN extension calls for the deployment of a new regiment, funded by the EU, along the border, an increase in the LAF maritime patrol, and lifting restrictions and obstacles to UNIFIL’s mission by forces in the south. Continuing to allow these restrictions in Lebanese territory undermines the country’s sovereignty and dignity. The full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1701 mandating all military matters to the LAF is the only solution for this political standoff.
-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.