Lebanon’s Opposition Likely to Nominate Jihad Azour as Presidential Candidate

 Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
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Lebanon’s Opposition Likely to Nominate Jihad Azour as Presidential Candidate

 Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)
Former Minister Jihad Azour (Reuters)

Lebanon’s opposition parties are expected to officially announce the candidacy of former Minister Jihad Azour for the presidential elections.

 

Representatives of the Christian parties confirmed moving forward with Azour’s candidacy, while opposition parliamentary sources stressed that the agreement was reached between the opposition and the Free Patriotic Movement, noting that some small formal details were still being discussed.

 

Lebanese Forces MP, Ghada Ayoub, announced that the coming days would witness the announcement of the opposition’s stance towards Azour’s nomination for the presidency.

 

“Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has not held an election session since January, and today there is no excuse for not calling for a session, as all justifications have fallen,” she told a radio interview.

 

She continued: “Azour is not a candidate for confrontation, and the facts on the ground, in addition to the external circumstances, no longer allow Hezbollah to run the game as it pleases and in the same way.”

 

Ayoub went on to say that with the nomination of Azour, the opposition succeeded in overthrowing the candidacy of former minister Sleiman Franjieh, who is backed by Hezbollah and the Amal Movement.

 

“Today there is an existing opposition... We will not allow anyone to impose their candidate on us by force,” the deputy underlined.

 

Meanwhile, the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) is yet to announce its position on the presidential candidate, knowing that Azour was among the names proposed by the party in a previous initiative.

 

While PSP MP Ghassan Atallah expressed his optimism that the meeting of the Democratic Gathering parliamentary bloc on Tuesday could end in this direction, his colleague, MP Bilal Abdullah, called for searching for a candidate who would be approved by all political forces.

 

“We had nominated Jihad Azour for his economic vision and successful experience in the Ministry of Finance; but what is required is to search for a new space for dialogue, and for a common candidate among all political forces. We will announce our position after we feel that all parties have agreed on a specific candidate,” Atallah said.

 

Meanwhile, Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are still dealing negatively with Azour’s candidacy.

 

MP Ali Khreis from the Development and Liberation bloc, which is headed by Speaker Nabih Berri, warned against “the danger of the coming days in light of the vacuum in the position of the presidency of the republic and the deliberate paralysis in state administrations...”

 

In similar remarks, Hezbollah MP Hussein Hajj Hassan said: “We announced our support for Franjieh some time ago, and we are convinced that he is the right person for this role. The other team had a candidate, and now they are trying to agree on another... We will see developments in the coming days.”

 

“However, we are questioning whether the election of the president can take place without a national understanding,” he added.



UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
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UN Human Rights Chief: Unconscionable Death and Suffering Happening in Gaza

A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)
A child looks on as Palestinians search for missing people under the rubble of a destroyed house following an Israeli air strike, at al-Nuseirat refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, 18 June 2024. (EPA)

Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside "unconscionable death and suffering" in the Gaza Strip, the UN human rights chief said on Tuesday.

"The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating," Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The West Bank, where the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule under Israeli occupation, has seen the worst unrest for decades, in parallel with the war in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.

Turk said that from the start of the Gaza war in October through mid-June, 528 Palestinians, 133 of them children, had been killed by Israeli security forces or settlers in the West Bank, in some cases raising "serious concerns of unlawful killings".

Twenty-three Israelis have been killed in the West Bank and Israel in clashes with or attacks by Palestinians, he said.

In Gaza, Turk said he was "appalled by the disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law" by parties to the war.

"Israel's relentless strikes in Gaza are causing immense suffering and widespread destruction, and the arbitrary denial and obstruction of humanitarian aid have continued," Turk said.

"Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue."

He added that Palestinian armed groups were continuing to hold hostages, including in populated areas, which put both the hostages and civilians at risk.

Israel's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva accused Turk of "completely omitting the cruelty and barbarity of terrorism" in his address to the UN Human Rights Council.

"Hostilities in Gaza are the direct result of Hamas terrorism, decades of rocket-fire and incitement against the Jewish people and the State of Israel, culminating in its brutal attacks against Israel on October 7," the diplomatic mission said in a statement.

Israel's ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas-led fighters stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed more than 37,400 people in Gaza, according to its health authorities, and left much of the enclave's population homeless.