Mikati to Paris … Mansour to Gaza

With the incessant Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip, this week kicks off with a waning in intensity on the local scene in order to monitor developments on the Israel and Hamas front given what its repercussions might have on Lebanon and the region as a whole.

The challenges of the war on Gaza should have been an incentive to revise positions as the opposition insists on its boycott [of the government] and the majority insists on the survival of the Cabinet.

But their stances will remain as such until a change occurs in the balance of power that might turn the crisis in their favor.

With hints from the international community that Lebanon should disassociate itself from the crisis in Gaza as it did in Syria, Prime Minister Najib Mikati arrived in Paris Sunday on a three-day official visit where he is expected to meet with President Francois Hollande Wednesday.

The war on Gaza will automatically become an item of discussion along with other issues concerning the Lebanese situation and the Syria crisis.

The [Paris] visit will give the government and its head another dose of international support at a time when the opposition is doing everything it can to win over the international community in its battle to overthrow the Cabinet.


Negative signs for Dialogue and a [UCC] strike next week

The March 8 and March 14 coalitions are in a political stalemate on the issue of the current government amid a disruption in contacts and political consultations. Meanwhile, MP Walid Jumblatt’s initiative has yet to be finalized.

As for [National] Dialogue, the president’s visitors said there were negative signs in terms of the holding of the Dialogue session set for Nov. 29 but they affirmed to An-Nahar that President Michel Sleiman would continue consultations with leaders including Speaker Nabih Berri, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea as well as the Tashnag Party.

While the Lebanese wait for the president’s speech Thursday on Independence Day, the Cabinet session will not be held Wednesday because Prime Minister Najib Mikati will be in Paris. He might travel to Rome Friday where Sleiman and a Lebanese delegation will participate in the ceremony to promote [Patriarch] Beshara Rai to the post of cardinal.


Opposition boycotts session on Gaza and Armenian president

The prime minister begins his talks in Paris Monday on local, regional and economic issues at a time when the opposition remains adamant on boycotting Parliament and Dialogue as the Future Movement hints of a possible escalation in its civil disobedience – even to the point of fighting “in defense of the Sunni community.”

The main political crisis remains primarily focuses on the [opposition’s] boycott of parliamentary committees that the government takes part in, according to the March 14 alliance statement that came out following the assassination of Maj. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

It seems that this party will continue its boycott, even the session Speaker Nabih Berri called for in order to show solidarity for the people of Gaza as well as the session where Armenia’s president will deliver a speech during his trip to Lebanon.

But sources in the Future Movement confirmed to Al-Akhbar that the opposition has not made a final decision with regard to participating in the session for the Armenian president, although the general direction is to boycott, specifically if the government will participate.

As for the Parliament session to do with Gaza, the sources said the MPs have not received an invitation yet and that they would discuss it when they do.



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