Bassil urges ‘underwater’ solution at Gas Row, says rivals can’t disarm Hezbollah — Naharnet


The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Jebran Bassil, stressed on Sunday that “victory over the enemy is not achieved exclusively by arms”.

“I’m with a solution for the maritime border that would preserve our right to undersea gas,” Bassil said at the FPM’s seventh annual conference.

“The water is nobody’s, but the gas is ours, and it’s not in exchange for sanctions! Sanctions against me will not be lifted as long as there are elections,” Bassil added.

US special envoy and coordinator for international energy affairs Amos Hochstein has reportedly suggested an “undersea” solution to the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel. He suggested “stopping discussions on lines above water and focusing on allocating resources based on which basins are under water,” according to the reports.

Bassil and the camp of President Michel Aoun have meanwhile been accused of making concessions in the negotiations in order to persuade Washington to lift its sanctions against the leader of the FPM.

Separately, Bassil said political rivals FPM and Hezbollah would not be able to “disarm Hezbollah or prevent it from joining the government” if they win a parliamentary majority in the upcoming elections.

“They will bow to foreign forces by keeping the displaced and the refugees and maintaining their control over the money of the people and the resources of Lebanon,” the FPM leader charged.

He added that it was Hezbollah that “reached out” to the FPM in an effort to forge an electoral alliance for the May 15 legislative elections.

“It was Hezbollah who reached out to us for an electoral alliance, just as we reached out to them on February 6, 2006, when they tried to isolate them. They want to strangle us and isolate us, but we breathe freedom, and with our strength and alliance we will succeed,” Bassil said.

Bassil added that the nature of the current electoral law obliges the FPM to appear on the same electoral rolls as political rivals such as the Amal Movement.

“It’s true that we will be on the same train, but each of us will be in a compartment. On the way, everyone will have their window and their view, and when we reach the station, each of us will go in a separate direction,” explained the head of the FPM.

“We are allied electorally and we remain free politically. It means that we will not abandon our cause and that we will not engage in corruption or subordination. We make the alliance and we win the elections, without changing our position, demand or accusation, and the deputies we win will serve our cause,” Bassil added.

Moreover, Bassil reiterated his call to elect the country’s president by popular rather than parliamentary vote.

“If they want to preserve the partnership and the Christian presence, the president can be elected by the Lebanese in two rounds – the first for Christians and the second for all Lebanese. Will the (legislative) candidates dare to endorse this constitutional amendment? asked the head of the FPM.

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