Int'l Efforts to Resolve Lebanon’s Crisis Stumble at Local Intransigence

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
TT

Int'l Efforts to Resolve Lebanon’s Crisis Stumble at Local Intransigence

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian in Riyadh last week. (SPA)

International efforts to resolve the presidential vacuum in Lebanon are stumbling at the intransigence of the local parties, which has so far prevented a tangible breakthrough.

French Presidential Envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian is expected to visit Beirut this month in continuation of Paris' efforts to help the country’s disputing parties to agree on a new president for the republic.

Eleven months after the expiry of President Michel Aoun’s term, Lebanon’s political parties are still unable to elect a successor.

The Hezbollah party and Amal Movement are insisting on nominating the head of the Marada movement, former Minister Suleiman Franjieh, while the opposition is asking Speaker Nabih Berri to call for successive electoral sessions that would ultimately end with the election of a new president.

Member of the Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam pointed to “continuous, diverse and extensive initiatives” to end the crisis, the latest of which has been from Qatar.

He added: “It would have been more beneficial for the internal parties to resort to the constitution and apply it instead of waiting for external initiatives.”

In a radio interview, Karam stressed that the Qatari initiative was not aimed at electing Army Commander General Joseph Aoun as president, adding that the Qataris were “open to all possibilities.”

Despite the multitude of initiatives, the issue is still being met with “internal intransigence” and “rigidity in positions,” according to parliamentary sources who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat.

They revealed that the internal political forces “did not show sufficient flexibility in dealing with these efforts.”

This assessment was confirmed by MP Ghassan Skaff, who said on X that the Qatari and French efforts will not succeed if they are not reciprocated by the Lebanese parties.



Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
TT

Israeli Forces Pull Back after Gaza City Offensive, Leaving Dozens of Bodies

Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas
Palestinians gather as they inspect the damages after Israeli forces withdrew from a part of Gaza City, following a ground operation, amid the Israel-Hamas conflict, in Gaza City, July 12, 2024. REUTERS/Dawoud Abu Alkas

Israeli forces retreated from some Gaza City districts overnight after a fierce, week-long military offensive, leaving dozens of dead and wrecked homes and roads in the Palestinian enclave's biggest urban area, residents and rescue service said on Friday.

The offensive, 10 months into Israel's campaign to eliminate Hamas militants, took place as US-backed mediators sought to finalize a peace deal that would free remaining hostages taken by the militants in their cross-border rampage on Oct. 7.

According to Reuters, the Gaza Civil Emergency Service said teams had collected around 60 bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces over the past week from the area of Tel Al-Hawa and the edges of the Sabra neighborhood in Gaza City.

Both residents and rescue teams cautioned that while tanks withdrew from some areas, Israeli snipers and tanks continued to control high ground at some locations, and warned residents against trying to return to their homes in those areas.

"There are bodies scattered in the streets, dismembered bodies, there are bodies of entire families, there are also bodies inside a home of an entire family that was completely burned," Gaza Strip Civil Defense spokesperson Mahmoud Basal said in comments carried by media in Hamas-run Gaza.

The Israeli military had said on Thursday that its forces were working to dismantle Hamas capabilities in Gaza City, and that it "follows international law and takes feasible precautions to mitigate civilian harm." It said the same was not true of Hamas.

The armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said they had fought fierce battles against Israeli forces, attacking them with anti-tank rockets and mortar fire, killing and wounding many. There has been no Israeli army comment on those claims.

Home to more than a quarter of Gaza's residents before the war, Gaza City was largely razed to the ground in late 2023, but hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have returned to homes in the ruins. Israel has once again ordered them out, though it is unclear where residents can go safely. Israel controls most of Gaza's borders and is also attacking central and southern Gaza.