Lebanese Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil at the Arab Ministers’ Extraordinary Session in Cairo – 9/12/2017
The Secretary General,
Jerusalem is not a cause but the cause, because it is the title of our Arab identity. Jerusalem does not belong to a Jewish god who hunts other gods, Christian or Muslim, nor is it a place where the gods fight on earth. God is the same for all, and Jerusalem can not belong to an isolated state, there is no room for isolation among us. Jerusalem belongs to Jews, Christians and Muslims and we are the sons of Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. We all want to pray in Jerusalem and we refuse that any nation forbids it.
I do not come in the name of Lebanon to denounce an act of invasion nor to remind the Arab identity, of which we were among its creators, nor to seek a deep belonging to divert us towards absurd conflicts dividing us into communities and confessions, into tribes and dynasties, to become a fragmented nation, to mortgage its symbols and violate its territory instead of being a sharing union around science, progress and dialogue.
I am here even less to claim a sterile declaration or a symbolic condemnation that will be erased overnight and that will be the laughing stock of all. We are here because our Arabness forbids us to yield Jerusalem and we, Lebanese, we refuse to flee our destiny, that of the confrontation and the resistance until martyrdom.
We are part of the identity of Jerusalem, we refuse to live outside freedom and we will face any occupier. In 1969 after the Al Aqsa fire, Golda Meīr wanted us to become a dormant nation and we turned into a losing nation while still others wanted us to be an absent nation, absent, because of a lack of common vision and an ideology of openness that brings us together. We refuse this slumber and we will provoke an awakening through a unique Lebanese identity linked to a vast Levantine spirit that inspires a fiery and evolved Arabism.
We are part of Jerusalem’s identity; our dignity is untouchable and our identity inalienable, able to free itself from its Lebaninity towards the Levant and Arabism.
We are here to recover the Arabism lost between Sunnis and Shiites, dissipated between East and West, diverted by an Arab-Persian conflict, pushed to an illusory mutual misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians, while Pope Chenouda, Patriarch Ignas IV Hazim, Mgr. Georges Khodr or Father Youakim Mubarak were the chanters of an Arabism that became the battle of their lives. Moreover, the patriarch of the Arabs understood that the wars in our countries did not target the regimes in power but the countries themselves.
To divert us from the Palestinian cause, we had the Arab Spring and the Sunni-Shiite wars as well as the creation of extremist forces that threatened the existence of minorities, knowing that we are all minorities in one way or another. These wars were created but lost and from failure came the transfer of embassy and the Judaization of Jerusalem.
One of Lebanon’s missions is to absorb crises and brave fragmentation attempts. Lebanon has preserved its unity beyond confessional affiliations and has tried to move away from the conflicts of its entourage, relying on your understanding to enable it to safeguard its Arab belonging as well as its wider cultural and varied fusion. The Lebanese specificity based on its varied and participative model is the first stepping stone in the path to recover Arabism. Similarly, political and national agreements in all Arab countries that take into account the acceptance of the other and working together are the other stones. This Arab house cannot hold without its ceiling which is Jerusalem and the head of all solutions, the common point of all variants, the pillar of the house.
Brothers and sisters,
Is it possible that this drama can unite us? Waking us from our deep sleep? Jerusalem is a mother or sister who calls us for help, her honor being ours. Can we disappoint her? Or rather, mobilize to help? History will judge us heavily and our children will not be proud of us. Even the mirror will look at us with scorn when our eyes cross it. Shame on us if we leave this room today cowardly! A sleeping nation must revolt or die. We are not here to vote by a show of hands or to console each other by a show of hands. We are here:
- To find our lost soul and recover our main cause, that of Palestine, of which Jerusalem is the capital. We must not be satisfied with the recognition of Palestine as a state, but rather work to broaden this recognition by all the other countries that have not done so yet, and to act to make this state a full member of the United Nations. Each of our countries must do what is necessary for Jerusalem to be consecrated as the capital of this Palestinian state. As far as I am concerned, I will make the request at the next Council of Ministers in Lebanon to take all the necessary steps in that direction.
- Resume a common Arab policy to dissuade the decision of the United States or any other country that would be tempted to follow. These measures would be diplomatic, through political measures and ending with economic and financial sanctions. To those who doubt the value of such measures, we must remember the few honorable Arab positions, such as the famous declaration signed by Saudi Arabia and Iraq in 1981, stating the cessation of any oil exchange with the United States and other measures, which forced it to reconsider its decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
- Regain Arab pride and revolutionary spirit, to reject injustice and organize a common popular uprising in all our Arab countries. I am sure that all Arab peoples will rise up after our unitary call, I will even say that our people came before us and that we became such a weak Arab regime that no one takes us seriously anymore. The uprising must not stop until all the clauses of the Arab initiative for peace are applied and without exclusion.
My dear Arab brothers,
I, the Christian by faith, the Lebanese by identity, the Levantine by belonging, the Arab by identity and membership of this league, stand before you to call you to an inter-Arab reconciliation that is the only way for our nation’s salvation, to find its soul and become a solid package that no one can break or even bend. I call for an urgent Arab summit whose title would be “Jerusalem” to bring it back to its Arab environment because without it there will be no Arab cause.
I call you to an uprising for our pride and to avoid the punishment of history and the questions of our grandchildren about our cowardice. Only the uprising can save our face and recover our rights.
If we do not act now, we can say goodbye to Jerusalem and peace.
Translated by Hala Hayek Najjar