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Mikati addresses cabinet on Israeli aggression, other key issues
Thursday, Apr 04, 2024

NNA – Caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, on Thursday delivered a speech during the cabinet session, focusing on the ongoing Israeli aggression in southern Lebanon.

"Our session today convenes amidst the continuation of the Israeli aggression on southern Lebanon, resulting in casualties, injuries, and extensive damage. We held a meeting today with United Nations organizations and ambassadors of donor countries, discussing extensively the situation in the south and requesting urgent assistance, especially as there are approximately one hundred thousand displaced persons from southern villages, 313 martyrs, and around 1000 injured individuals. The major catastrophe lies in the extensive damage to the agricultural sector, where 800 hectares have been completely affected, along with 340,000 heads of livestock lost, and approximately 75% of farmers losing their primary source of income. I believe it is imperative to declare the southern region a disaster zone, especially since this issue will have long-term repercussions. The same applies to the education sector, with around 75 schools permanently closed, not to mention the reconstruction of what has been destroyed and the priority of seeking sources of funding,” Mikati said.

"We affirm that the true peace we seek is 'the peace of human justice.' We raise our voice to the international community, condemning the aggressions and demanding the restraint of the enemy, the cessation of war, the establishment of peace, and the removal of war from the region. I want to emphasize through the Cabinet that Lebanon has friends in all the countries of the world who are sincerely working to pressure the Israeli enemy to stop its aggression against Lebanon. We also appreciate the contacts and visits carried out by friendly international authorities and Lebanon-loving entities, seeking to contribute to finding solutions to the presidential crisis. We affirm that the election of a president of the republic is a demand of all, and it is among our priorities that enhance confidence in Lebanon as a state and a homeland. It is our collective responsibility to care for our affairs, as much as the concern of other countries for us. Engagement and dialogue are the shortest path to saving our country from the dangers of vacuum and ongoing crises,” Mikati added.

"We were surprised this morning by the signs of a diplomatic crisis with Cyprus, as some Cypriot newspapers attacked Lebanon on the background of the file of refugees arriving in Cyprus illegally through Lebanese waters. Necessary contacts were made with Cypriot authorities, who confirmed their keenness to maintain the best relations with Cyprus, and we do not accept that the refugee crisis is exported to them. I stressed during the contacts that, in the refugee file, we face a reality that the world must understand. Refugees enter Lebanon clandestinely, and no country helps us control the borders. Therefore, if we decide to deport a Syrian to his country, we face a human rights issue. As for maritime borders, we are working to control them to the best of our ability,” the Prime Minister stated.

"Regarding the restructuring of banks, there have been claims that this file has been closed, which is not true. The file is being studied calmly, and when its elements are complete, we will call for a ministerial meeting to discuss it before presenting it to the Cabinet, based on a clear organizational vision adopted by all,” Mikati noted.

"Much has been said about the letter we addressed to the State Security apparatus, and we have provided a copy of it to the Minister of Interior and other security agencies. This issue has been blown out of proportion, and some have started to give incorrect interpretations of what happened. This letter falls within the framework of organizational work and is not an intelligence disclosure targeting any party, leader, or political faction, as some claim. We have heard many complaints about the absence of traffic police from the roads due to their assignment to protection duties, so we decided to address this issue. Our relationship with the Minister is excellent, and there is no dispute with him, and the matter will be executed as we stated, with the suggestions handed over to the Central Security Council to decide what is appropriate,” Mikati added.

“Concerning the security file as well, we must note the significant security work being done by all apparatuses, especially in terms of quickly detecting crimes,” Mikati added.

"On the occasion of the Easter and Eid al-Fitr holidays, we congratulate the Lebanese, both residents and abroad, and we wish all the best for Lebanon, praying for abundant mercy for the martyrs and victims,” the Prime Minister concluded.

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كلمة الرئيس نجيب ميقاتي خلال مؤتمر القمة العربية في البحرين