The US has said it opposes the threat of violence against Lebanon’s judiciary, stressing that judges must be free from Hezbollah’s intimidation.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a briefing in Washington Thursday that his country urged an easing of tensions in Lebanon following deadly clashes in Beirut at a demonstration against judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator into last year’s massive blast at the Beirut port.
Seven people were killed in shootings at the demonstration by supporters of Hezbollah and Amal Movement.
Price offered the US administration’s sincerest condolences to the Lebanese people and those impacted by the tragic loss of life outside the Palace of Justice in Beirut.
He said Washington has consistently been clear that Hezbollah’s terrorist and illicit activities undermine Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty.
Price said that Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland met with Lebanese officials in Beirut on Thursday and made the very same points offering the US support to the long-suffering people of Lebanon.
Nuland offered condolences in the aftermath of the violence, and made it clear that “the Lebanese people deserve a government that is able to meet their aspirations, is able to meet their increasingly dire humanitarian needs as well,” Price said.
However, when asked to comment about Hezbollah’s position accusing the Lebanese Forces party for being responsible about the violence, he said, “We don’t have a judgment to offer publicly at this time.”
Meanwhile, the American Task Force on Lebanon urged Friday the Biden Administration to reconsider the decision by the Department of Homeland Security to refuse Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation to Lebanese visitors in the US.
TPS, based on a Congressional statute, protects certain overseas visitors in the US from deportation for a specified period of time if they are in danger of overstaying their visas.
ATFL President Ambassador Ed Gabriel said: “Lebanon has been referred to by the World Bank as possibly one of the three worst economic disasters since the mid-1800s.”
He called on the Biden administration to show compassion for these Lebanese citizens who are currently in the US and need temporary protected status at this gravest time in Lebanon’s history.
“We also call upon the Congress to enact legislation calling for temporary protected status for those Lebanese currently in the US,” he said.