Berri to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Am the One Who Sponsors Dialogue to Elect New Lebanese President

Speaker Nabih Berri meets with the National Moderation bloc on Saturday. (Parliament)
Speaker Nabih Berri meets with the National Moderation bloc on Saturday. (Parliament)
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Berri to Asharq Al-Awsat: I Am the One Who Sponsors Dialogue to Elect New Lebanese President

Speaker Nabih Berri meets with the National Moderation bloc on Saturday. (Parliament)
Speaker Nabih Berri meets with the National Moderation bloc on Saturday. (Parliament)

Lebanon’s parliament Speaker Nabih Berri put an end to the debate about who calls for and moderates dialogue in line with the initiative launched by the National Moderation bloc.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Berri said: “The General Secretariat of the parliament is the side that calls parliamentary blocs to take part in dialogue that will be headed by me personally without preconditions.”

“Perhaps meeting at a roundtable will lead to an agreement over a certain candidate, who could be eventually elected president, because the extraordinary conditions Lebanon is going through demand that we end the vacuum in the presidency,” he added.

Lebanon has been without a president since October 2022 when the term of Michel Aoun ended without the election of a successor. Bickering between the political blocs over a suitable candidate has thwarted the polls.

The National Moderation bloc has proposed holding a consultative session at parliament with the aim of agreeing on a presidential candidate and securing the needed two-thirds quorum at parliament at successive elections sessions that would be called for by Berri. The speaker would in turn vow to the bloc to call for the elections.

The bloc has been holding a series of meetings with other blocs to reach an agreement on the mechanism to launch the dialogue, focusing on who will make the invitation for the talks and who will moderate them. The bloc has also demanded that the participants not make any preconditions over the dialogue.

The National Moderation bloc met with Berri on Saturday.

Parliamentary sources from the bloc told Asharq Al-Awsat that it was not surprised with the speaker’s insistence on moderating the dialogue since he is the official who sets the mechanism for launching it.

He underlined his position to the bloc, they added.



13 Palestinians Killed in Central Gaza Strikes

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
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13 Palestinians Killed in Central Gaza Strikes

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

At least 13 people were killed in three Israeli airstrikes that hit refugee camps in central Gaza overnight into Saturday, according to Palestinians health officials.

Among the dead in Nuseirat Refugee Camp and Bureij Refugee Camp were three children and one woman, according to Palestinian ambulance teams that transported the bodies to the nearby Al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital.

The 13 corpses were counted by AP journalists at the hospital.

The latest casualties follow a rare moment of hope in war ravaged Gaza, after a medical teams recovered a live baby from a heavily pregnant Palestinian mother killed in an airstrike that hit her home in Nuseirat late Thursday evening.

Heavily pregnant Ola al-Kurd, 25, was killed along with six others in the blast, but was quickly rushed by emergency workers to Al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza in the hope of saving the unborn child. Hours later, doctors told The Associated Press that a baby boy had been delivered.

The still-unnamed newborn is stable but has suffered from a shortage of oxygen and has been placed in an incubator, said Dr. Khalil Dajran. The baby boy's father was wounded in the same strike, but survived.

At least 38,919 Palestinians have been killed and 89,622 have been injured in the Israeli military offensive in Gaza since Oct. 7, the Gaza health ministry said in a statement on Saturday.