Will Hariri's Coalition Stand Its Ground While Forming a Government in Lebanon?

[Jerusalem Post] Zvi Mazel - More than a month after the elections in Lebanon, the process of forming a new government has reached an impasse. The coalition led by Hariri now musters 71 representatives in parliament while the opposition has 57. In order to tackle the country's severe economic problems, Hariri has declared that he wanted "a national unity government" that includes opposition parties, but the Hizbullah-led opposition is demanding a third of the cabinet ministers and a veto on all important government decisions - something Hizbullah had obtained in the previous government. Hizbullah wants to remain free to act as it sees fit concerning the flow of arms smuggled to it from Syria, and to be able to control any decision regarding Israel. Saudi Arabia and Egypt have been trying to persuade Syria to pressure Hizbullah to accept a compromise, which is a new phenomenon. The U.S. and France are also doing all they can to bring Syria to pressure Hizbullah into a more conciliatory position. So far Syria, basking in all that international attention, has given no indication that it is ready to act. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has stated that in the event that Hizbullah were included in the next Lebanese government, Lebanon would be held responsible if Hizbullah were to attack Israel. The writer, a former ambassador to Egypt, is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and editor of infoelarab.org.

2009-07-17 06:00:00

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