Zahra Hits Back at Gemayel: We’re in 2016 Not 1975

Lebanese Forces bloc MP Antoine Zahra snapped back Friday at Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel, after the latter accused LF leader Samir Geagea of seeking to exclude Kataeb from the new government.

“It is not true that we want to exclude the Kataeb Party from the government,” Zahra said in an interview with MTV.

“I want to remind him that we are in 2016 not 1975 and claims of an isolation attempt will not lead to the same result… These false claims are rejected,” Zahra added, referring to an attempt by the rival leftist-Muslim camp to isolate Kataeb during the beginning of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and the support Kataeb received from the other Christian forces back then.

“Claims of being aggrieved are not useful today,” the MP noted.

He stressed that the LF is not “vetoing” anyone’s participation in the cabinet and that it rejects that any party be “isolated.”

Zahra also reminded that “Kataeb joined (Tammam Salam’s) government with three ministers and left with only one,” in reference to ministers Sejaan Qazzi and Ramzi Jreij, who defied Kataeb’s resignation decision and stayed in the Cabinet.

“We are partners in this presidential tenure and we will take part in it effectively like we deserve,” Zahra added.

In remarks to An Nahar newspaper published Friday, Gemayel said Kataeb “has always been stigmatized.”

“This is not the first time that we face an isolation attempt,” Gemayel lamented, decrying how “Geagea does not mind to be with Hizbullah in the same government as he refuses Kataeb’s participation.”

MTV reported Friday evening that “things are back to square one” in the government formation process due to the “vetoes and counter-vetoes” of the political parties.

Horsetrading is mainly revolving around the distribution of key posts like the finance, defense, foreign affairs and energy ministries.