Maronite Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai has called for “calming the southern front,” so that Lebanon, “under international auspices, resumes border demarcation negotiations with Israel.”
His remarks came a day after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah threatened to respond to any Israeli strike immediately, during maneuvers organized by the Israeli army along the border area.
Rai’s mass sermon on Sunday, focused on a number of crises including the migrant boat that sank off Tripoli’s coast last month.
“Images of the sinking boat disaster off Tripoli’s shores are still vivid before our eyes, and the pain continues in our hearts as we see the death of children, youth, mothers and fathers,” the patriarch said.
He continued: “It is not permissible for this tragedy to be a mere passing event, as some people try to turn its page just as they are trying to turn the page on the Beirut port blast and the explosion in the village of Al-Tleil in Akkar and others.
He urged the authorities “to conduct a transparent and impartial investigation to determine responsibilities and put an end to questions and suspicion on the eve of parliamentary elections.”
The Patriarch also urged Lebanese citizens to vote massively in the polls, stressing that the elections “give citizens the opportunity to tell the world which Lebanon they desire… and that they reject every proposal for a settlement … that is inconsistent with the reality of the country.”
“It is clear that the majority of the Lebanese adhere to a free, democratic and neutral Lebanon; a Lebanon of national partnership and charter; a Lebanon of historical identity, justice and equality; a Lebanon of one army and constitutional institutions,” Rai said, underlining that the Lebanese want to “live, prosper and have a free economy.”