09/14/2006, 00.00
LEBANON
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Hezbollah, proxy in someone else's fight, says Sfeir

by Youssef Hourany
For the Maronite patriarch, the recent conflict was a war imposed on Lebanon by the United States and Israel on the one hand, and Iran and Syria on the other. Most Shiites are not with Hezbollah when it places itself outside the state, says mufti of Tyre.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir today called for "Lebanese solidarity" to put the country back on its feet whilst slamming Hezbollah. He said that through a Lebanese "proxy", the country was subjected to a war between the United States and Israel on the one hand, and Syria and Iran on the other.

In meeting the press, Sayyed Ali el-Amin, mufti of Tyre and Jabal, distanced himself from Hezbollah. In his opinion, whilst "most Shiites are with Hezbollah against Israel," they are "not with it when it becomes an obstacle to the state".

Openly criticising those who want to remain outside plans to rebuild the Lebanese state, he said that it was a mistake not join the process. "We want to be in [this process]. There is no shame for Hezbollah to hand in its weapons and fully turn itself into a political party if the purpose is to protect the country."

This morning Cardinal Sfeir met US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman as well as the chief editors of Lebanon's major dailies. He pointed out that in the last two months the situation in the country was getting worse and that more and more people were falling into abject poverty. Given the rising tide of emigration among the young—more than 200,000 with many still waiting for their visa—something has to be taken right away.

Responding to criticism directed at the Maronite bishops' seventh appeal for not openly naming Israel, he said: "We have already expressed what we think of Israel, which remains Lebanon's enemy, in the final communiqué released at the end of the last meeting of religious leaders held in Bkerke in late July. We have condemned Israel's actions against Lebanon and the Arabs."

Patriarch Sfeir finally reminded the country's political leaders of the need to inaugurate a new historical phase, one that plants the seeds of trust between the authorities and the people.

In addition, he made an appeal to the Lebanese living abroad to come home and make their contribution in this phase of Lebanon's history "because we cannot wait for outside help to restart living."

 

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