MP Sami Gemayel, leader of the Lebanese Phalanges Party , said in a July 26, 2019 interview on Al-Hurra TV (U.S.) that Lebanon cannot cope with the 1.5 million Syrian refugees that it has absorbed over the past seven years and which, according to Gemayel, currently constitute 40% of Lebanon’s population.
He said that it is only natural for the Lebanese people to want a solution to this problem and he said that all countries should share in Lebanon’s burden. Gemayel also bemoaned the fact that Lebanon has suffered disproportionately from the Syrian crisis simply as a result of its proximity to Syria.
In addition, Gemayel was highly critical of Hezbollah, saying that its existence as an armed militia runs counter to international norms and to the law and constitution of Lebanon. He called for Hezbollah’s military capabilities to be placed under the command of the Lebanese military and he said that Hezbollah’s influence in the Lebanese government is to the country’s detriment. Gemayel added that Hezbollah is causing an increase in national tensions because of its eagerness to fight alongside Iran were a war to break out between the U.S. and Iran.
He said: “Lebanon should be neutral… The Lebanese have nothing to do with [this conflict].”