False witnesses issue, main obstacle facing a new cabinet session


Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri continues with his consultations which are aimed at holding a cabinet session on Saturday, according to An-Nahar newspaper sources .

Hariri intends to call a session in which the “false witnesses file” will be one of the items on the agenda according to the paper but will not be the only item.

The cabinet must meet to address pressing issues such as Israeli plans to withdraw from occupied Ghajar, Israeli attacks on Lebanon’s telecommunications sector, campaigns of criticism against the Internal Security Forces, the extension of Banque du Liban Governor Riad Salameh’s term, and the appointment of a successor to retiring General Security chief Wafiq Jezzini, the source told an Nahar

If the session is to be held on Saturday, the call must be issued on Thursday at the latest, An-Nahar added.

As-Safir newspaper quoted an anonymous March 8 minister saying that “the opposition’s stance is clear and firm: A cabinet session must be held quickly with the false witnesses file as the first item on its agenda, and not just as one of its items.”

“The rest of the items can be discussed after this one is settled by a vote.” The source stressed

An Nahar quoted Amal bloc MP Ali Hassan Khalil as saying, “we welcome a call for a cabinet session so that it can continue the tasks required of it, but we want to finish the discussion of the clause at which the cabinet last stopped – the false witnesses file. We will accept the result the cabinet reaches on this matter.”

The cabinet has not met since its November 10 session in which discussion of the “false witnesses” controversy was postponed to avoid a divisive vote.

Tension escalated in Lebanon following reports that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will soon issue its indictment into the 2005 assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Last July, the Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that the tribunal is “an Israeli project” that will indict Hezbollah members. Nasrallah accused Israel of being behind Hariri’s assassination but refused to provide the evidence to STL to support his claim. Hezbollah and its March 8 allies have been calling for the abolition of STL.

Some leaders are concerned that should the court indict Hezbollah members, it could lead to a Shiite-Sunni strife.

The Pro Syrian Al Akhbar newspaper reported earlier in the month that Hezbollah has prepared a plan to take over Lebanon when STL issues its indictment for the 2005 murder of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun , (a close ally of Hezbollah ) said on November 18 that Hezbollah might violently respond to an STL indictment that accuses Hezbollah party’s members in Hariri’s assassination.

On Tuesday a leading Israeli Military Intelligence official expressed concerns that Hezbollah might seize control of Lebanese government institutions .

“Dozens will be killed when Hezbollah uses force and takes over government institutions,” senior Military Intelligence official Colonel Yossi Adler told the Knesset in ‘a possible scenario if Hezbollah is indicted by STL.’