Former Lebanese MP Fares Souaid spoke with former Lebanese foreign minister Adnan Mansour about U.N. Resolution 1701 during a February 12, 2019 show on OTV (Lebanon). Mansour said that Lebanon is in a state of war because Israel regularly violates Resolution 1701, and Souaid argued that Hizbullah also violates the Resolution by stockpiling weapons and ammunition south of the Litani River in the homes of farmers and civilians, and that the zone is not demilitarized even though it should be. Mansour defended this, saying that one must prepare for war even in times of peace. Souaid said that weapons are stored on private property in southern Lebanon and that whenever UNIFIL wants to inspect something, they are told that Lebanese law prohibits them from entering private property. Later in the show, Souaid said that the Assad regime in Syria is not investing any effort in returning Syrian refugees from Lebanon because of its goal to bring about a demographic transformation, and that Lebanon is headed towards a humanitarian catastrophe as a result. Fares Souaid is a member of the March 14 Alliance.
Following are excerpts:
Adnan Mansour: Lebanon is in a state of war. The ceasefire ended the military operations, but that doesn’t mean that…
Fares Souaid: Following U.N. Resolution 1701, and since August 14, 2006, we haven't heard of anything happening in southern Lebanon. Even the recent blocking of the tunnels took place without any response from Hizbullah.
Adnan Mansour: How many times has Israel violated Resolution 1701 by air, by land, or by sea? How many spies and collaborators has Israel planted here? How many bombings? These are all acts of aggression.
Fares Souaid: These are all acts of aggression, but we are also stockpiling weapons south of the Litani River, and we are storing ammunition in the homes of farmers and civilians in all of the villages.
Adnan Mansour: Even in a time of peace, you must prepare for war. When you stand before an enemy, even in times of peace you prepare for war…
Fares Souaid: We arrived at Resolution 1701… You were once the Foreign Minister. Do you think that Resolution 1701 regulates our hostility with Israel? We have not developed Resolution 1701 into a ceasefire. It is still just a cessation of hostilities. Let's keep things as they are. Let's stop attacking one another at the expense of Lebanon, the south, and the people.
Adnan Mansour: Lebanon has not taken any military action against Israel since 2006. But has Israel honored Resolution 1701? No.
Fares Souaid: There were violations by both sides…
Anchor: When were there violations by Hizbullah?
Fares Souaid: In 2006…
Anchor: Where was Hizbullah's hostility?
Fares Souaid: Everybody knows, and the international community knows, that the region south of the Litani River is supposed to be demilitarized, but it is not. This is also a violation of Resolution 1701. Israel violates Resolution 1701 by air, by sea, by land, and with mines, and Lebanon – which is represented by Hizbullah – also violates it.
Achor: But UNIFIL patrols the area and no weapons are visible. There is nothing. Even the locals don't see anything.
Fares Souaid: Whenever UNIFIL wants to inspect something, they are told that Lebanese law prohibits their entry into private property. This is why we store [arms] on private property.
If you asked Bashar Al-Assad, he would say that he wants to return the [Syrian] refugees, but the Syrian ambassador hasn't been in Lebanon for 10 years, and he hasn't visited the refugees even once, although they have been here for 6 or 8 years now. Angelina Jolie comes from France to visit the Syrian refugees, and he doesn't even visit the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
I do not see the Assad regime investing real effort in bringing back the refugees, because one of the regime's goals is to bring about a demographic transformation. This is why we are bearing the burden and this is very dangerous for Lebanon. If we handle this matter in a populist fashion, and not rationally, we will fall into abyss. My colleague here told me before the show that 40,000 Syrians are born in Lebanon every year. We are headed towards a humanitarian catastrophe and a demographic transformation in Lebanon because of this.