Prime Minister Hariri’s government wins the confidence vote: Support for the core policy of freedom with a just and comprehensive peace

(November 06, 2000)

 

The government of Prime Minister Rafic Hariri won an overwhelming vote of confidence in the Lebanese Parliament when 96 of the 128 deputies gave their support with 17 abstaining, six voting against and nine not present.

The prime minister in a concluding speech gave his government’s response to the deputies who had spoken during the four-day debate, and answered the questions they had put to the government. Mr Hariri announced that he was extending his hand to all of them in a spirit of cooperation. He said: “We closed the page of the immediate past to learn from it, and we closed the page of the distant past to study it and learn from our experience inside and outside government.” His speech covered all the issues raised by the deputies, from the question of the Syrian presence in Lebanon, which he described as “necessary”, to the question of freedoms, arbitrary arrests and wire tapping.

 In discussing the Syrian presence he reminded parliament that during the debate some had defended the Syrian presence while others criticized it or had called for the redeployment of Syrian troops. Some had even called for the Syrians to leave Lebanon. He commented that “the main issue that was lost in this debate was the Arab-Israeli conflict and the speeches ignored it. They ignored that there is a state on our borders that threatens us, our independence, sovereignty and stability, and imprisons our sons.”

He added that after the Israeli withdrawal many Israelis expected a war developing in the South but this had not happened. Others were confident there would be a deterioration in the Syrian-Lebanese relationship with tension between the two countries, but this did not and will not happen.

 The prime minister reminded people of his description of the situation in the South as “fragile” and said that there will not be stability for the Israeli people without a comprehensive and just peace in the region. He said: “Some colleagues criticized our support for just and comprehensive peace, we respect their position but we insist that we are supporters of peace, a comprehensive and just peace. The peace means full Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Lebanese and Syrian land and giving the Palestinian people their full rights, including Jerusalem as their capital.”

 Mr Hariri said that “the Syrian presence in Lebanon serves the interests of Lebanon. The Syrian presence is necessary. Had not been necessary the Lebanese government would have started discussing with the Syrians redeployment or withdrawal and this is what we mean by necessary.”

On the issue of freedoms the prime minister promised transparency and said: “We will fully support press freedoms without any restrictions whether in secret or publicly.” He urged journalist to get in touch with him if they received any threatening calls announcing that “my door will always be open to you”. He pledged to follow up on this issue as freedom of speech was a constitutional right.

 Prime Minister Hariri defended people’s constitutional right to be protected against arbitrary arrest and said that he was “very serious about this issue. If anybody thinks that I am saying this for political consumption he is wrong.”

The question of wire tapping was discussed at length by the prime minister who said the matter touched on the most basic of society’s freedoms. He stressed: “Do not misjudge Rafic Hariri. Do not think that I am desperate to be prime minister. If things do not go the right way and according to the rules I will come to parliament and talk about everything. I will not be lenient on this issue.”