Ministerial Panel Finalizes Policy Statement, Cabinet Convenes Saturday to Approve It

A ministerial committee tasked with drafting the new government’s policy statement finalized the draft on Friday evening after a second meeting at the Grand Serail, Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s office said.

“We finalized the draft policy statement in today’s session, and after a phone call between PM Hariri and President Michel Aoun, it has been agreed to hold a Cabinet session tomorrow at 11:00 am,” Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh announced after the meeting.

“Should things proceed normally as expected, the statement will be referred to Speaker Nabih Berri and consequently to parliament,” Hamadeh added.

The parliament’s “debate and confidence sessions would then be held next week between the two holidays,” the minister said.

MTV said the conferees endorsed the same clause that was used in the policy statement of Tammam Salam’s government regarding the so-called army-people-resistance equation.

According to the TV network, the Lebanese Forces’ representative “asked for some time to study the draft policy statement, specifically the clause related to the resistance” against Israel.

Al-Mayadeen television said the statement will include a clause about “confronting terrorism in a preemptive and deterrent manner.”

The committee’s meeting was chaired by Hariri and attended by the ministers Hamadeh (Democratic Gathering), Mohammed Fneish (Hizbullah), Ali Hassan Khalil (AMAL Movement), Nouhad al-Mashnouq (al-Mustaqbal Movement), Salim Jreissati (pro-president), Youssef Fenianos (Marada Movement) and Pierre Bou Assi (Lebanese Forces).

President Michel Aoun had announced earlier on Friday that the statement would be derived from his oath of office, “whose content has been approved by all parties.”

The members of the previous government had wrangled for several weeks over the wording of the policy statement, specifically over the clause related to the conflict with Israel.

In his oath of office on November 31, Aoun had pledged to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region.”

As for the conflict with Israel, Aoun said: “We will spare no effort or resistance to liberate any Lebanese territory that is still under occupation or to protect our country from an enemy that still has ambitions regarding our land, water and national resources.”

On the anti-terror fight, Aoun vowed a “preemptive and deterrent” strategy against terrorism.

The president also pledged to “strengthen the army and boost its capabilities to enable it to repel all kinds of attacks on our country.”