March 8 ministers reject Hariri’s compromise offer


MTV reported that the Hezbollah led- March 8 ministers contacted PM Saad Hariri during their meeting on Tuesday to inform him of their rejection of his proposal to Amal MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

According to local reports the ministers came up with new ideas which they will share with Hariri.

Voice of Lebanon (VOL) reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Saad Hariri has his own compromise plan which he relayed to Berri through Khalil to resolve the “false witnesses” controversy.

Hariri’s plan calls for establishing a judicial commission consisting of six judges including two judges to be suggested by Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar and tasking it with studying the “false witnesses” issue and suggesting a suitable solution to the matter, according to VOL.

Berri’s proposal

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri met on Tuesday with Khalil who is promoting a proposal that was devised by Amal movement leader Speaker Nabih Berri to reach a compromise on the false witnesses’ issue prior to the cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

According to An-Nahar newspaper Berri proposed that the “false witnesses file” be considered as part of the case of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s 2005 assassination which was referred to the Judicial Council before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon got involved and therefore there is no need for a new cabinet decree to transfer the matter to the Justice Council and no need to discuss the issue in the Cabinet.

According to Berri’s proposal, it would be then up to the judicial Council itself to decide whether it has jurisdiction in the matter, or not the source told an Nahar.

Cabinet session

The cabinet has been called for a meeting on Wednesday at the Presidential Palace in Baabda with the “false witnesses file” as the first item on the session’s agenda. This will be the first meeting since the November 10 session, during which the discussion of the controversial false witnesses issue was postponed to avoid a divisive vote.

Hariri who confirmed that he will be attending the cabinet session on Tuesday also met today with Defense Minister Elias al-Murr who also said that he will be attending Wednesday’s cabinet session.

Murr reportedly expressed hope that the cabinet would discuss issues pertaining to citizens’ affairs.

Murr said on December 9that he will not participate in an upcoming cabinet session unless its agenda includes an article on penalizing parties that incite sedition in Lebanon.

Hezbollah-led March 8 alliance has called on the cabinet to ask the Judicial Council to investigate the issue of witnesses who gave unreliable testimonies to the international probe into the late PM Rafik Hariri’s 2005 murder. However, March 14 alliance is convinced that the regular judiciary should be able handle the matter.

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 repeat of the My 2008 incident when Hezbollah gunmen occupied west Beirut and tried but failed to occupy Mt Lebanon, resulting in the killing of over one hundred Lebanese.

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 December 7 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.’