Al-Rahi Says Israeli Withdrawal before Hizbullah Lays Down Arms
Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi’s statements to al-Arabiya television will trigger wide responses locally, especially among the March 14-led opposition that had already criticized them, al-Liwaa newspaper reported on Friday.
Sources told the newspaper that al-Rahi’s statements will have an impact on the Christians in Lebanon and they will confuse them.
Former Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir also expressed his dissatisfaction with al-Rahi’s statements.
The daily said that the ex-Patriarch might outspokenly object to them in the next Maronite Bishops Council meeting.
Al-Rahi told al-Arabiya on Thursday that sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites may emerge if the Syrian government is overthrown.
“If the regime changes in Syria, and the Sunnis take over, they will form an alliance with the Sunnis in Lebanon, which will worsen the situation between the Shiites and the Sunnis,” al-Rahi said.
He warned that the Christians will pay the price if the Muslim brotherhood succeeded Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In addition, the Patriarch voiced support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon probing the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri “on condition that it is not politicized
Asked about Hizbullah’s arms, he responded: “The international community must pressure Israel to withdraw from the occupied Lebanese territories … and fulfill the Palestinians’ right of return, and consequently Hizbullah will have to lay down its arms.”
Concerning the Syrian people uprising, al-Rahi urged the international community to grant Assad more time to implement reforms and resume dialogue with the opposition.
“Assad cannot make miracles… The Lebanese have suffered from the Syrian regime’s meddling, however, I want to be objective,” he added.
Al-Liwaa newspaper noted that LBC wondered if the Patriarch will reiterate his stances during his visit to Washington, or if his stances in France will affect it, “especially since his stances in Paris were not welcomed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the French officials.”