Transcript by Sayed Hasan
One of the most important results of this (May 25), 2000 victory, which was confirmed and strengthened over time, is to have shaped the equation of force in Lebanon. In 2000, with the Israeli defeat, it became clear that in Lebanon, a force had imposed on the Israeli enemy (by force) to get out defeated, humiliated, fleeing (the battlefield). Israel has not obtained any gain nor was it able to impose any conditions, any security agreement (for an orderly retreat or a peace treaty), any reward or compensation whatsoever: on the contrary, it was a retreat (without negotiations or conditions), a (real) humiliation. And anyway, Israelis themselves unanimously acknowledge this.
All that was said at the time to (try to) confiscate the results of this victory, that what happened was allegedly the result of a secret agreement, of a deal (between so and so), a (mere) implementation by Israel of UN Resolution 425 (passed in 1978!), it all fell apart within a few days, because it was a mirage, illusions, lies, mystification attempts that had no basis of truth or reality. The whole world –and primarily Israel itself– submitted to the fact, and recognized and accepted that what happened on May 25, 2000 was a total defeat for the Israeli enemy and a clear, decisive, conclusive, radiant and glorious victory for Lebanon, for the Lebanese people, for the Resistance in Lebanon, for the Lebanese army, and for all those who have helped shape this feat and the victory in Lebanon (especially Iran and Syria). And therefore, the presence of this proactive force was revealed (to the whole world), this force that imposed a defeat on the enemy.
And ever since, Lebanon is not considered anymore as the weak link in the Arab-Israeli conflict or as the main weakness of the body of the (Muslim) Community or in the structure or situation of the region. This is well and truly over. Now, Lebanon is regarded as the holder of a large point of strength (Hezbollah). And it is not (only) me who says so. Anyone can ascertain this truth by following (the statements of) Israeli officials, the Israeli enemy, its politicians and military, security services, analysts, media, study centers, conferences held each year within the (Zionist) entity, reports, security measures, (military) maneuvers, all the measures taken by Israel at the border (construction of a defensive wall, earthworks, trenches, etc.), all this confirms that the enemy is considering seriously and follows in real time this real strength present in Lebanon.
For a long time, we have been considered by Israel as a strategic threat or as the main threat. I’m going back to the fact that we are a “threat” to them. But the fact is that the enemy recognizes our strength, and that the whole world does the same, including the United States, and that’s why they constantly ponder how they can liquidate Hezbollah as the spine and base of the new Lebanese force equation which was achieved after 2000. They constantly wonder how they can get rid of Hezbollah. They speak of assassinations, sanctions, pressure, isolation, inclusion in the lists of terrorist organizations, blockade and even total war… All this, they have undertaken, but Hezbollah has stood against all these conspiracies and all these trials.
Therefore, the enemy recognizes the presence of this force, and the reality of this great upheaval that took place in Lebanon after 2000, and took root and expanded after the victory of the Resistance in 2006. Today, Israel says about this force, particularly about Hezbollah, that it is a strategic threat or the greatest threat to Israel. I would like to… Of course, this is a glorious testimony for us, and we are proud of it and take pride with this fact, because what even our enemies acknowledge undeniably underlines our merit. But I want to present it in positive and national terms, from our front, our side, not from the perspective of the enemy. Because when Israel presents us as a strategic threat and the main threat, it aims thereby to incite the world against us. But we have to present (this reality) from our point of view, positively. In a positive way, what the enemy sees as a threat, we designate it as a defensive force, a force that prevents (aggression), a force that pushes back (the enemy), a protection, deterrence and confrontation force. In a nutshell, as an integral part of the Lebanese force that got rooted after 2000, Hezbollah represents part of the force of deterrence, response and prevention that prevents the Israeli enemy to satisfy any of its greed (in Lebanon), or to carry out any of its threats.
We all know that the enemy has ambitions in our lands, waters, country, borders, etc. So far, even in border areas –to which I shall return in a moment–, the Israeli enemy continues to claim certain strategic areas for Lebanon, like the issue of the Shebaa farms, or others who have a major value in terms of security, strategy and economy. The same goes for the issue of the (maritime) border (and offshore resources in) oil and gas. The greed of this enemy goes far beyond these borders. Anyway, Israel’s cupidity and threats are well known, and he tries to forcefully impose his choices to our country, to our people and to the Lebanese State, but this force (Hezbollah) stands before him (and neutralizes his aggressive tendencies).
This force, just like the enemy recognizes it and works to neutralize it, to liquidate it and get rid of it, as for us, we need to know, we the Lebanese, the importance of this force for the preservation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, welfare, safety, choices and resources, for the present and the future of Lebanon, and we must work to protect this force, that we dubbed the ‘Golden Equation’, namely the Army, the People and the Resistance. We must preserve this strength to face this greed and these threats. And it is thanks to this strength that we could liberate our territory.
Imagine that there were no Resistance in Lebanon, that there were no Liberation in May 2000. So imagine that the army of occupation were still occupying our territory, at least Southern Lebanon, to this date, wouldn’t we see Mr. Trump grant southern Lebanon, or at least large areas of southern Lebanon, to the enemy government, as he granted them Al-Quds (Jerusalem), as he granted them the Golan, as he will grant them the West Bank, and as his predecessors in the past granted them the 1948 territories?
Therefore, today, the Resistance, as a part of this fundamental Lebanese force, this fundamental Lebanese force, this defense force, this deterrent, this protection force, this retaliation, prevention and confrontation force, it is the force that we must protect with great care and at the best of our capabilities. When we see that our enemies target it by all means to finish it off, we need to know that they act in their interests, and therefore, as Lebanese, we must act on the basis of our national position, our sovereignty, our ethics and also according to our interests. Our interest as Lebanese is to live in security, welfare and health, to protect our territory, our capabilities, our blood, our honor, our dignity and our freedom, which implies that we should be strong. The strength is our (only) real guarantee (against Israel).
What we need to confirm during the occasion that we celebrate this day, especially in a world that appears more than ever as making no place to international law, UN resolutions, the Security Council, or to international organizations, and where only the US-Zionist tyranny, arrogance and despotism have a voice, as well as the Resistant, strong and steadfast peoples, those who are fully committed to their rights and are prepared to defend themselves and to sacrifice for these rights to be respected. As for the others, they are (mere) victims, who have no place in the equations, and must spend (huge) sums of money, pay the consequences (of their cowardice), and in the end, the (US) will get rid of them when they become a burden (refers to Saudi Arabia, etc.).
Based on the occasion that we celebrate this day, I want to briefly mention a few related points. First, on the 19th anniversary of the Resistance and Liberation Day, we must confirm our commitment to the Shebaa Farms, the hills of Kfar Shuba and the Lebanese part of Ghajar village (occupied Lebanese territories). The statement issued yesterday by His Eminence the President of Lebanon Michel Aoun on this issue was strong, clear and categorical. The same applies to the Declaration of the General Staff of the Lebanese Army, which affirms its absolute commitment in appropriate terms: it was, in essence, an irrevocable commitment to liberate the Shebaa Farms, the hills of Kfar Shuba and the rest of the (Lebanese) occupied territories, whatever sacrifices are required and at any cost, as high as it may be. I do not quote verbatim from their statement, but you can refer to it, and that’s what it says in substance, and its content is clearly strong and appropriate. So today, we confirm our natural right to our territory, to resist, to deploy all forms of Resistance and to implement all means to liberate the rest of our Lebanese (occupied) territory.
The second issue is the demarcation of borders. Currently, one of our elements of strength is the agreement between the various Lebanese officials, and in particular between the three Presidents (of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Chamber of Deputies) on this issue. The Hezbollah Resistance supports the position shown by the State and stands behind him, as we have announced in the past. In all certainty, the Resistance, the Lebanese people and all the Lebanese trust and place their hopes in the commitment of the (three Lebanese) Presidents and of all the State officials to all of our land, sea and natural resources rights presumed in our waters, and expect from them a wise management of our case, persistence in our national claims and to see them live up to their historic responsibilities in the negotiations on these issues.
In these (indirect) negotiations, Lebanon can rely on two key points: 1 / The strength (provided by) right because what Lebanon demands is its rights. What Lebanon demands is rightfully ours. 2 / The strength (provided by) the strength I have just mentioned, and which is present in Lebanon.
Today, Lebanon is not in a weak position against Israel, not at all. And no Lebanese must feel that their country or State is in a weak position, never. Today, Israel is intimidated, scared, worried and fearful with what is in Lebanon. And just as Israel can prevent Lebanon from exploiting the oil and gas (present in the Mediterranean), similarly, Lebanon can prevent Israel from exploiting maritime resources in oil and gas. I have no need to utter new threats. The Israeli enemy, and behind them the United States are very familiar with these (deterrence) equations.
And therefore, as long as the Lebanese State and politicians rely on the strength (provided by) the righteousness of our claims, and the strength (provided by) our strength, we’ll remain committed to our rights and we can be very optimistic, as the President of the Chamber (of Deputies) Nabih Berri, in our ability to achieve a great victory in this case, God willing.
The third point (of my speech) is the issue of the (permanent) settlement (of the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and elsewhere). I would like to draw attention to the fact that the most important thing that can come out of the Bahrain Economic Conference (scheduled for June 25 and 26, 2019, to launch the ‘Deal of the Century’) and the economic investments (for Palestine) that must be discussed there, plus some incentives and financial aid here and there, all this can open the door for the naturalization of our Palestinian brothers (who are refugees) in Lebanon and in the rest of the countries in which they are located, in addition to the pressures and restrictions experienced by UNRWA, that can lead to stopping its activities (of vital aid to Palestinian refugees, especially in Gaza).
Similarly, as for the issue of the border demarcation (between Lebanon and occupied Palestine), there is common ground, a common background on the Lebanese scene, namely that all the Lebanese, despite the many differences between them, are unanimous in the refusal of the naturalization (of Palestinians), be it in the Constitution, politically, patriotically, and on all levels. It is also a common ground with our Palestinian brothers in Lebanon, as all Palestinians, whether Palestinian factions, the Palestinian people (as a whole), Palestinian refugees, all our dear and honorable Palestinians brothers in Lebanon are unanimous in their rejection of naturalization, and insist to assert their right to return to their land, Palestine, in their lands, their property and their homes. This is a common ground (between all Lebanese and all Palestinians).
Now we are at a stage where it is no longer enough for everyone to declare that we are against the naturalization (of Palestinians). O Lebanese, O Palestinians in Lebanon, it seems that the danger of naturalization is dangerously close. And that is why I call for a quick meeting, which does not need to be extensively prepared, because it is not a negotiating table, nor a set of conferences. (This meeting will not require) long days (of preparation or discussions). It is simply a meeting of Lebanese and Palestinian leaders in Lebanon to discuss seriously the creeping and imminent danger of naturalization, and to devise a plan against it.
Of course I do not mean the Lebanese-Palestinian Dialogue Committee (LPDC), which debates of major problems in detail, but of a meeting that will come on top of this committee, or will be at its side, or held at a higher level, and I suggest that it be held at a high level, with the main officials, and in a serious manner. Today, we must be vigilant, and it is not enough that I make a statement (against naturalization), that the other (Lebanese groups) do the same, and that our Palestinian brothers too, and all will be well. Absolutely not. Because in our statements, we are all opposed to naturalization. But what is the Lebanese-Palestinian joint action plan (to be implemented)? We need a common plan to face the creeping and imminent danger of naturalization. We must all sit together, the Palestinian and Lebanese officials concerned must sit and devise an action plan. And as for the ideas, suggestions or active assistance that can be asked from us, of course we are very willing to participate in this fundamental, patriotic and national struggle.
The fourth point of my speech is a word about the Syrian refugees, to which I referred (at the beginning of my speech) regarding Syria. I will also speak of it briefly, although the subject deserves an entire hour, because it is full of tedious details. But today I just say this to the Lebanese: everyone is unanimous in Lebanon, and it is also a common ground – I try to be positive today, and look for common ground between all Lebanese. In terms of appearances, all Lebanese are unanimous in declaring that they want to help our brothers and families of Syrian refugees return in their country. We all agree on the principle, but we disagree on how, on the means, etc.
But the truth of the issue, because I want to reveal the truth and to be clear, and not make up false reasons for these divergences: the real reason (of the obstacles to the return of the Syrians) is a political reason. All this is related to the upcoming presidential elections in Syria. The mandate of President Bashar al-Assad will end in 2020-2021, and elections will be held no matter what happens, regardless of what may or may not occur in Astana, in Geneva, whether a constitutional committee be organized or not, whether a political solution (to the conflict) is found or not, presidential elections will be held as scheduled.
There is an insistence of the United States, of Western countries (France, Great Britain, etc.) and of the Gulf countries… We must be clear. Today, the Lebanese people is unanimous in his desire to resolve this issue, whose sufferings are shared (between Syrians and Lebanese): Syrians suffer from being displaced, except a minority of them who managed to get a good situation in Lebanon, and now have shops, restaurants, facilities, resources, and everything is fine for them, and they are comfortable, but it is a minority. The majority of the displaced Syrians are living the suffering of displacement. The Syrians are suffering, and the Lebanese also suffer, in all regions. At some point, some people, and that is unfortunate, tried to give a sectarian dimension to the differences on the issue of the displaced Syrians, and a religious or regional dimension. But today, all Lebanese, in all regions, regardless of their religious group, are suffering the consequences of this displacement and are therefore concerned by it. They suffer economically, socially, in terms of security, and you know the details of the situation. We see the news every day, and know well the details of the situation.
Why is the suffering of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon still ongoing? Why is the suffering of the Lebanese still ongoing? Why should the two sides continue to bear all these burdens? For a simple reason. This is the truth. This is the (plain) truth: the United States, the West, and at least some Gulf countries do not want the displaced Syrians to return to their country, at least not before the Syrian presidential elections. The reason is (purely) political.
This has nothing to do with humanitarian considerations. Rather, humanitarian considerations require that everyone returns home, to his house, shops and fields, to his family and beloved ones, to his country. And it has nothing to do with security reasons. All those who have returned to Syria live there (in peace), like the other Syrians. The rumors that some Lebanese officials have tried to spread about alleged murders, settling of accounts, etc., are mere inventions and lies, and I ask – I have already asked some officials at the State level, outside the media – that these false claims be the subject of an investigation because they are dangerous. And in truth, these fabrications constitute a (false) charge against all the political parties who supported or facilitated the return (of the Syrians), and especially against a respected Security institution of prime importance in Lebanon, namely the Directorate of General Security in Lebanon who mainly took charge of the issue. These lies, designed to scare the displaced Syrians so they do not return to their country, are baseless, but serve the political purpose that I just mentioned.
As for the State and the Syrian government, several years ago – it is not recent -, during a meeting with President Bashar al-Assad, I spoke to him frankly and asked him frankly: “Do you want the displaced Syrians to return to Syria?” Because it was necessary that we understand each other. We are friends and allies, and shouldn’t harm each other (even unintentionally). He answered frankly and truthfully, “Yes, we want them all back in Syria and we are ready to make it easy for everyone to return to Syria.” Today, what is the obstacle? This is the one I mentioned. It is a political obstacle. The obstacle is political.
Can Lebanon, the Lebanese State and the Lebanese government be subject to these political considerations, and should they take precedence over humanitarian considerations, security considerations and economic considerations only because the United States, the West and some Gulf countries give the priority to these political considerations, and impose on Lebanon a ban on the return (of the displaced Syrians to their country)? I say that what is happening in Lebanon is that displaced Syrians are prevented from returning to their country. It would be wrong to say that there is a voluntary return in place, and those who want to return can do so, and those who want to stay (in Lebanon or elsewhere) can do so. It is not the case! There is a real impediment. One way to prevent this return is intimidation and fear spread by some Lebanese officials in the past and to this day (for some). Some Lebanese media continue to spread (these false, scary rumors). And likewise, one of the ways to prevent the return of the displaced is to entice them, to make their staying in Lebanon desirable. Therefore, we must do away with these obstacles (preventing the return of the Syrians), and not merely (condemn them).
Today, of course, no one in Lebanon, no Lebanese political force can declare themselves in favor of maintaining the Syrians in Lebanon, or declare themselves opposed to their return to Syria, no one would dare say that, even if that’s what they really want. Everyone says that the Syrians must go back home and that we must help them. I believe that after the debate on the budget, the government and the Lebanese political forces must seriously discuss this issue and not just give their stance about it.
Anyway, the regional and international scene has become clear: the Lebanese delegations, during the conferences that were organized and the contacts that have been made with all countries of the world… And I declare that what I now reveal on television has become a certainty for the Lebanese officials for months at least, if not for years. (Lebanese officials know with certainty that the United States, the West and the Gulf are fiercely opposed to the return of the Syrian refugees) since months at least. Therefore, it is clear to all Lebanese officials and leaders that there is a political obstacle (to the return of the displaced Syrians). How will we react? What are we to do with this issue which is a major national problem? […]