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Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on the 31st Anniversary of Establishing the Jihad Al-Bina Development Foundation

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Full Speech on the 31st Anniversary of Establishing the Jihad Al-Bina Development Foundation
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Translated by Staff

Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s Speech delivered on the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Jihad Al-Bina Development Foundation at the Imam al-Mujtaba Complex in St. Therese 

26-7-2019

I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and prayers and peace be upon our Master and Prophet, the Seal of the Prophets, Abi al-Qassim Mohammad bin Abdullah and his good and pure household and his good and chosen companions and all the prophets and messengers.

Peace and Allah's mercy and blessings be upon you all.

After welcoming and thanking my dear brothers and sisters for their attendance, I would like to congratulate them on the 31st anniversary of the official establishing of the Jihad Al-Bina Foundation. I thank them for their generous efforts and courage during all the difficult stages. To start with, I would like to salute the martyrs of this institution: martyr and engineer Nizar Saleh, martyr Mohammed Talib, martyr Ghassan Aknan, martyr Lutfi Madi, martyr Mohsen Bjeiji.

The achievements of this institution throughout the decades are the result of efforts and struggles by generations for more than 31 years. Thus, we should also pay tribute to all the general managers, directors, engineers, officials and employees of this institution, the brothers and sisters, who have been part of it for decades, whether they remained in the institution or left to other locations on our path. 
Today I would like to extend a special recognition to brother and engineer Hajj Mohamed Al-Hajj, the General Manager who spent many years holding this position. We ask God to accept from him [his efforts]. I also ask God Almighty to bestow attunement to brother and engineer Mohamed al-Khansa, who bore this responsibility after him. 

I also pray to God Almighty to bestow attunement to all my brothers and sisters in this gracious institution to succeed in this continuous and relentless jihad in the service of the people. Brothers and sisters, in our culture and faith, serving people is one of the greatest acts of worship to Allah Almighty. It is one of the greatest ways to strive in the path of God. One of the greatest ways to strive in the path of Allah is serving people, exerting an effort, enduring hardship and weariness in their service, lifting injustice and providing them with a chance for a dignified, safe and happy life.

At the beginning of the speech I mentioned the official establishment of the association in 1988. This means it obtained a license from the concerned ministry. Otherwise, Jihad Al-Bina Association started its actual work in 1985, unofficially.

There are two key aspects that launched the association. The first was the Bir al-Abed massacre and the aftermath of the bombing that caused severe destruction to infrastructure. The second was the launch of a new phase in the work of the resistance. In 1985, we all remember when the “Israelis” withdrew from the coast of Saidon, Tyre, Nabatiyeh and a large part of western Bekaa to what was known until 2000 as the occupied border strip. Thus, a line of contact between the resistance and the occupation was formed. Daily operations and daily “Israeli” attacks took place. These attacks affected houses, public buildings, fields and farms. Hence, part of the responsibility was to face this challenge with these two aspects, the incident and the great battle. Thus, the Jihad al-Bina Association was launched.

As a matter of loyalty, I have to mention the following. At that time in 1982, we did not have the post of the Secretary General of Hezbollah. We had something called the Shura. The Shura still exists, but we did not have an organizational description for Secretary General. Martyr Sayyed Abbas (may Allah have mercy on him) was one of the main Shura members. I have to state here that martyr Sayyed Abbas al-Moussawi was the firmest believer in establishing this institution and was enthusiastic about this work and project. He adopted it morally, materially and financially. He sought to achieve it, strengthen it and develop it.

This institution has been part of the resistance from the beginning. Nowadays, when sanctions are imposed, some institutions may distance themselves from Hezbollah and say they are not part of Hezbollah so as not to be subjected to sanctions. Jihad al-Bina is proud to be part of Hezbollah and the resistance. And we are proud of it as well.

Since the beginning, Jihad al-Bina was a part of the resistance. One of the characteristics of the experience of the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon – for those who want to read about this experience and evaluate it – is that the resistance faced the occupation on multiple dimensions in order to liberate the land. In a sense, the resistance opted for the military choice and fieldwork and neglected the other basic, complementary and supportive aspects and dimensions.

From the beginning, the resistance, the military work, the armed jihad, the armed struggle, name it whatever you wish, was the main choice. “Israel” did not leave our land without a fight. However, alongside the fighting that had its jihadist formations, Hezbollah worked on multiple dimensions at the same time. Its priority was to protect the option of resistance politically, that is in all political forums, before entering parliament, in parliament, in the government, within political alliances and on all political positions. It also protected it at the level of culture, faith, media and psychological warfare, taking care of the martyrs’ families as well as the wounded and their families. It protected it within the sphere of health care, including hospitals, health centers, pharmacies, clinics and civil defense, and within several other dimensions. 

There is also the level of steadfastness, the steadfastness of the people on their land – people remaining on their land. When the border villages were bombed, they were damaged and would no longer be habitable. It was necessary to quickly renovate houses within a few days to keep the people in their homes and to keep the people in their villages. This is what Jihad al-Bina did.

For each of these dimensions, we had institutions, units and working regulatory frameworks. Jihad al-Bina was responsible for the dimension related to steadfastness and keeping people on their land, the reconstruction work, the agricultural aspect, helping the people, especially in the South, the Bekaa and the Western Bekaa, to survive and bear the consequences of this option. Until 2000, the Bekaa was a partner in bearing the consequences of resisting, not just the border villages. The Bekaa was constantly subjected to “Israeli” air strikes. Many were martyred and wounded and homes were destroyed.

The Jihad Al-Bina Foundation took responsibility for this dimension. Because the resistance was an integrated resistance, it worked on multiple dimensions. All the employees were loyal. They believed in this cause and this path. They were honest people who exerted a great deal of effort and were ready to shed their blood. Hence, this resistance was able, in cooperation with the rest of the resistance factions in Lebanon, to achieve the great victory and liberation in 2000.

This is the beginning of Jihad al-Bina. And this is its position from the beginning. It was able to provide great services up until and after 2000. It quickly restored all the houses that were damaged. People were compensated for destroyed furniture. It addressed the problems of [broken] glass, doors and windows. It provided agricultural assistance in addition to the assistance provided by the state through the Council for the South.

Of course, before 2000, all of Jihad al-Bina’s assistance in this context was supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran and contributions from supporters and believers of this path.

Today after 2000, the big challenge we faced was the war in 2006. Steadfastness and victory took place at that time. I would like to take you back to that time. The brothers before me pointed to this issue. At the time, when the aggression stopped, but there was no cease-fire agreement, people returned to see this great scene, the massive destruction the aggression caused. Regional and international powers as well as “Israel” bet that when people returned to their villages and homes on August 14 and saw this destruction, the victory the resistance spoke about would turn into defeat. And the supporters of the resistance will turn against it. This was a challenge. I do not want to open old wounds and mention what some officials in Lebanon said at the time. 

In any case, we had already started planning before the cessation of the aggression, in the last two weeks. It was clear to us that the aggression was going to stop because serious negotiations had begun in this regard. Within some of Hezbollah's framework, we started preparing for the stage after the aggression stops. A plan or a project was outlined. Jihad al-Bina was the main factor in this plan alongside the rest of Hezbollah’s various formations.

The plan was as follows. As soon as the aggression stops, Jihad al-Bina, with all its engineers and experts in various fields, will carry out a quick and extensive survey. The houses that can be repaired must be restored quickly. As for the houses that are completely destroyed, we must provide an alternative to the people. We must help them rent homes for a year or two. We should also provide acceptable furniture that can provide reasonable living conditions for all those who lost their furniture. Within a few days, without exaggeration, when the aggression stopped, Jihad al-Bina, in cooperation with the rest of Hezbollah's formations, carried out a complete survey of residential areas because the priority was for housing and families.

Within a few days, the process of renovating the houses began in a flexible manner in cooperation with their owners. The houses that were not habitable even after restoration were also designated for rebuilding. Reasonable and acceptable furniture was provided. This assistance came in what was then called the Iwa’a Project.

Within days, I think within two weeks without exaggeration. When those who bet that our honorable people – whom I call honorable people and dignified people – will remain in the streets, in tents and in public gardens accepting charity from others, especially those who wanted to shed their blood failed, they came to lend a helping hand with gratification. Within two weeks, there was no one on the streets.
 
Brothers, I would like to focus on this experience during the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the July war and say this experience is unprecedented in human history. If anyone says there is a similar experience, let us know so we can correct it and say that someone did it before us. This experience is unprecedented in human history and during contemporary wars. When a war breaks out in any country, even in rich countries, they were unable to achieve this not because they do not have the money, but probably because of bureaucracy or because they do not have efficient managers or because they do not have enough sense of responsibility. People remain outside their homes for years. 

From the Jihad al-Bina and the preparations to establish it, the Wa’ed Foundation was launched. It achieved the promise in five years. Also to be fair, the most extensive support came from the Islamic Republic of Iran, in addition to the assistance the government gave to the families based on the understanding between them and Wa’ed. This aid has not been fully distributed yet. Even though the money has not been distributed, the promise was accomplished within five years.

This experience is great and extensive. It should always be made use of. 

After 2006, the Jihad al-Bina Association turned towards a specialized dimension. We have set up a contact line. We have reconstruction work. The attacks have stopped. Thank God. Lebanon is enjoying security, safety and peace. There are no more direct “Israeli” attacks. We also consider air and sea violations to be attacks. The main focus now is the agricultural sector. This means an interest in agriculture, in the environment, in the cooperatives [societies] and in training people vocationally and professionally.

In the last few decades, the brothers and sisters in the association have worked on a series of projects that were summed up a little while ago. I would like to address some of these points that were mentioned in the report and the director general’s speech. There are people who have not read or heard the report but are now listening to my speech. By stressing on these projects, I will be mentioning the effects.

First of all, what is called "Al Shajara Al Tayyiba" [the Good Tree] project is meant to combat desertification. Of course in Lebanon, this problem exists. We had entire areas covered with trees, but now they have nothing. There are areas heading towards desertification, either because people are cutting down trees or as a result of lack of care and protection. Efforts to preserve parklands are lacking. Quarries operate in an unorganized, unthought-of and unaccounted manner for many reasons. Buildings are also overrunning many areas. This green Lebanon we always extol seems to be turning into concrete.
 
This is one of the huge problems we face in the country.

Jihad al-Bina is an institution belonging to Hezbollah. One of its responsibilities and tasks is to fight desertification. One of the important tasks in combating desertification is extensive afforestation as well as cooperating with municipalities, associations and people in villages, towns and cities to spread the culture of afforestation.

In the past, I was introduced to this project and we learned how to plant a tree. We are the children of farmers and peasants. But we have left ploughing and farming behind. This project started and must continue.

For the past few years the work of Jihad al-Bina was done under the kind care of President Bashar al-Assad and before him by President Hafez al-Assad, the Syrian government and the Ministry of Agriculture in particular and some government agencies with permanent annual assistance. Even during the time of the Syrian crisis, this assistance did not stop. The assistance included a large number of seedlings distributed to municipalities and agricultural cooperatives and associations. Over the past few years, we have distributed more than ten million and six hundred thousand seedlings. This is apart from the one million seedlings that we planted during the year of the "One Million Seedling" project. I had the honor of planting the one-millionth seed in front of our house in Haret Hreik.

In this context, first I appeal to all the people and all the Lebanese in all areas about the importance of preserving what was planted, what exists and what is planted, every tree and every plant and everything green everywhere. Second, to continue the work of planting and afforestation in all areas. This is a national, ethical, health and environmental responsibility. Its benefits need not to be discussed. I also would like to tell you that this is a religious responsibility of the believers who aspire for their afterlife and {a seat of honor near a Sovereign, Perfect in Ability}. I tell them: planting trees is what brings you closer to God Almighty. Many of the Messenger of Allah’s (peace be upon him and his household) hadith spoke about planting. It also exists in the books of Sunni and Shiite Muslims. Hence, this is a dimension or an aspect of worship.

I will delve into the agricultural sector. Thus the first subtitle is “Al Shajara Al Tayyiba” project. The brothers in the Jihad al-Bina in cooperation with everyone, including the relevant ministries and departments, municipalities and the residents should make this their great goal. It should be present night and day.

The second is a project that finds employment opportunities. Today, one of the most important challenges in our country is the issue of job opportunities. We hear many slogans about creating job opportunities. There are serious approaches and other times wrong approaches.

In any case, regarding this project, Jihad al-Bina continues to work on vocational and professional rehabilitation for people and everyone who is ready for this. Thus, it will establish rehabilitation courses and guidance and will also help them secure jobs and market their produce. This is the third subtitle, which will come shortly.

This is one of the most important factors and forms in serving people. We want an active society where people work. Our religion even emphasizes on work, the worker’s dignity and position. The definition of worker is not the classical Lebanese one of a laborer, but rather a tradesman, laborer, a farmer. The farmer is a worker so is the industrial worker. Here, in the Arabic language it means the person who is working vs. the person who is unemployed.

This worker who works hard for his family is the same as a Mujahid striving on the path of God. We want a working society and not a lazy society or a society that is dependent. There are people, however, who are incapable of working. Those are the people we provide assistance to, even in loans and charities. Did you know that religiously speaking the reward for giving a loan without interest is better than the reward of giving charity [Sadaqa]. The loan solves the problem of the person you are lending to. That person works and fuels economic activity. He is working hard to make his livelihood with his sweat, hands and weariness.

Also here, no matter the amount of effort exerted on the part of Jihad al-Bina, it is necessary to continue working on this.

The third is the "Provisions Market" as well as agricultural and handicraft exhibitions under the "Ardi" Project (My Land) in the cities, villages and towns. This project was launched years ago. It had a large impact. It saw great participation from all Lebanese regions and from all the Lebanese towns. People displayed their produce. A very large sale took place. The importance of these exhibitions is that they create a direct relationship between the farmer, the producer and the consumer. Thus, these exhibitions eliminate travel and save the consumer some cash. They also provide for the producer a rapid field to market his produce. 

I would like to pay special tribute to these kinds of exhibitions. I call for its intensification and continuation, and not to stop them under any circumstances.

Fourth, the "Abbas" (PBUH) project for drinking water in Beirut’s southern suburbs (Dahiye). I want to tell the Lebanese and those who are listening to us outside Lebanon. The southern suburbs are said to be home to some 800 thousand Lebanese. Some say it’s 900 thousand. Others say it’s a million. Some say it is more then a million. Let us say that 800 thousand people and not a million live in a certain geographical area. Did you know that these people did not have drinking water for decades? There was no drinking water. They bought them either in tanks or in bottles. They needed someone to transport water for them. This is the case with drinking water. As for tap water [for daily consumption], which is undrinkable and not transported, most of it has limescale. Only 25% of the water is being provided for Dahiye, which is a part of Lebanon. When they talk to you about balanced development and deprivation, brother, deprivation is here.

Now I do not want to talk about Baalbek Hermel, the Bekaa and Akkar. One of the worst forms of deprivation is over there. Water, which God Almighty says {we […] made from water every living thing}, is the most basic of the rights of the Lebanese citizen. Until now, he is not getting it from the Lebanese state. Yes, there are projects that are being followed up on by deputies, ministries and the government. Now, God willing, we are still waiting for a year, two, three of four years. God knows. If nothing stumbles or falters, then it means there is hope for drinking water to each Dahiye. This is an ongoing quest. But I just liked to point it out that over the past thirty to forty years there has been no drinking water. I asked one of the brothers: since when was there no drinking water in Dahiye? Now, the brother is forty-five years old. He is nearing his fifties. He replied, “there has been no drinking water in Dahiye ever since I can remember.” 

Since the beginning Jihad al-Bina adopted this project. In the southern suburb, there are 134 large water tanks. When you tour Dahiye, you will find them. Of course, from the very beginning it was funded by the Islamic Republic. We put Iranian flags on them. However, some people objected: why did you put Iranian flags on the water tanks? They do not want to help us and do not want to give Dahiye residents their natural right to water. Yet they want from us to decline if someone came and helped us.
 
This project is still ongoing. Of course, it has recently been given special care by Dahiye’s union of municipalities. Apart from providing water in the tankers, the union also sterilizes the reservoirs and the water and maintains the tanks. This project has been ongoing for years, and we hope it continues until the day – God willing – drinking water reaches the faucets Dahiye’s residents thanks to the efforts and jihad of the loyal people.

Fifth, the cooperative societies file. What we strongly need in Lebanon is the culture of cooperative work, team work, guidance, rehabilitation, establishing cooperative societies as well as maintaining and activating them.

The final topic with regard to Jihad al-Bina before I delve into some of the main issues is the agricultural sector. Eventually, everything has to do with this sector. After 2006, Jihad al-Bina Foundation’s main responsibility and priority became this sector. The report mentions agricultural extension work in all areas, agricultural extension centers and the assistance they provide, counseling, rehabilitation, training and providing aid as well as assistance in marketing produce. 

What Jihad al-Bina is doing at this level is a very big job. Here, I would like to stop and tackle some internal issues. The problem in Lebanon is that there is no vision when they talk about the future economic vision. Yet, if there is a vision, there is no seriousness. There is no real conviction in organizing priorities. Brothers, sisters and Lebanese people, one of the simplest things is setting up a lot of plans, projects, researches as well as developmental and economic conferences. What we need in Lebanon is neither understanding nor vision. What we need is will, seriousness, action and operational planning and getting to work.

What is clear and does not require economists is that if any country wanted to stand on its feet economically, it must have productive sectors. This is obvious. There are countries that produce oil and gas. They have financial sufficiency and distribute funds to the world. They also engaged in wars in the world. These countries have productive sectors. We need productive sectors. There are many factors in Lebanon, including landscape, soil, air, climate, water, human resources and qualifications, rural societies, that can help the country possess the best and strongest agricultural sector.

What are our options? We’ve got the agricultural and industrial sectors, tourism and services. As for the issue of oil and gas extraction, we will have to wait and see. But today, I do not want to talk about other sectors. But due to the occasion of Jihad al-Bina, I want to say a couple of words regarding the agricultural sector. So far there is no government policy. The problem is not in the Ministry of Agriculture or with the Agriculture Minister, regardless of whether the minister was qualified or not. But basically the problem is not in the Minister of Agriculture, not the current minister or the ones before him. At some point, the Minister of Agriculture belonged to Hezbollah, to the Amal Movement and some other political parties. Well, the Ministry of Agriculture with its meager budget and its modest capabilities cannot revive and strengthen the agricultural sector on its own. It needs the state, the government, state institutions and the general national determination. Certain policies should be set. How come other neighboring countries, Syria, for example, despite the war and siege, has a very strong agricultural sector? This is because there is a government policy. From the start, it has taken the responsibility to support this sector, protect it and activate it. This is the same in other countries. We do not have this. On the contrary, in recent years and decades, we had everything that led to the destruction of this sector. This sector was not only not protected, it was endangered, destroyed, wasted and weakened.

Today, we call for interest in this sector, encouraging agriculture, helping the agricultural sector and farmers. One of the problems Lebanese farmers face is marketing their produce. Yes, the cost of agricultural production is high. Why is the cost of agricultural production high? Because there is no government protection, no government sponsorship and no assistance in reducing the cost of production and helping to find markets. The Lebanese always opt for the cheapest solution. They close the borders on agricultural produce or industrial products from abroad. How do we protect the industrial sector? Raise taxes on imports. This does not revive the agricultural sector or industrial sector. This must be part of a plan. Alone it is distorted and has serious economic, financial and social repercussions. Lebanon and the Lebanese government need a complete plan and seriousness. Take a look at the CEDAR project. Tomorrow the share of the agricultural sector in the project will be shown. The problem is in the culture, orientation, vision, and the decision on whether to have a productive agricultural sector or not. When we have a productive and effective agricultural sector, then you will see the outcome.

The first outcome is providing many job opportunities and decent and honorable work, a work in which no one controls the other. The second thing it will do is strengthen the countryside. One of the problems we are facing in Lebanon is overpopulation in Greater Beirut and in the main cities. Having a productive and effective agricultural sector will lessen overcrowding and traffic congestion. There is a huge and healthy environment that has advantages. One of which is at the social level. By returning to the countryside, we can preserve the family unit. This is one of the advantages, preserving the family, which is being dismantled and destroyed in the cities. You see people fighting in buildings, neighbors fighting on the streets over parking, the elevator, the concierge, the generator, over everything. Is this correct?

We have to return to the countryside, each to his own home with a garden in front. The children can play and not be confined and sticking to the Internet. They can breathe fresh air and eat natural food and drink healthy water. We need a strategy to return to the countryside, to our villages and our land, to our towns, to our good lands, to our good water, to our fresh air, and take a load off the cities. This is also the responsibility of Jihad al-Bina. In the context of preserving the family, I end the first part of my speech in calling on the following. It might be outside the context of Jihad al-Bina’s developmental and agricultural aspects.

In a few days, the occasion of the great and holy marriage of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali bin Abi Talib (peace be upon him) and Sayyida Fatima bint Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household) Sayyidat Nisa al-Alamin, comes on the 1 Dhul-Hijjah. We, as a party, call on adopting the week stretching from the 26th of Dhul-Qidah to the 1st of Dhul-Hijjah to be the week of the family. This is not an official Lebanese position. This week will be similar to the week of the resistance, Unity week and the Day of the Oppressed. We should all as scholars, preachers, the media, television, radio, institutions, schools, universities, the cultural and intellectual frameworks work to educate and rehabilitate people and develop real plans to preserve the family.

This is a great challenge today no less challenging the financial and economic situation, no less than the challenges posed by drugs. The challenge posed by the disintegration of the family is a challenge for all of Lebanon. It is not confined to an area or a sect or a city, so no one comes out and says that this does not concern them. Unfortunately, look at the divorce rates in all regions and in all sects. This is a very serious challenge. It must be confronted. How can you build a country with a disintegrated society? Who are you building it for? Who are you bringing CEDAR for? Who are you addressing the economy for? The first thing is man and the family unit. The first nucleus is the family.

I will move on to tackle some political points.

The first point: I want to comment very briefly on the issue of the budget. It was noticeable in the country that for the first time the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc votes positively in support of the government budget. During the past few years, we have been discussing it. And at best, we abstained from voting as a result of fundamental and main recommendations related to the budget. The reason this year we voted is due to certain factors, most important of which is that all of us agree that we are facing a difficult economic and financial situation and that we all need to cooperate to address it. Of course, there is a disparity in the characterization of this financial and economic situation. There are those who tell you that it is on the brink of collapse. Others tell you that the situation is good, but if we continue like this we will collapse. But there is no one saying that there is a difficult situation that needs cooperation and taking responsibility. From the first day of the budget discussions, we said that we will take responsibility.

The second point: We held serious discussions. We discussed the issue seriously in the Cabinet. A number of our recommendations were endorsed and others were not. We attended the Finance and Budget Committee, and later had serious discussions in Parliament. I do not remember because I do not closely follow up. Have previous governments and previous Finance and Budget Committees witnessed such serious, broad, in-depth and difficult discussions like this year? 

I do not know, but as I recall perhaps this is the year in which there was accuracy and discussion because, in fact, everyone was working. The knife almost reached the bone. As long as there is flesh, even if the knife reached the bone, some wounds can still be endured. When the knife reaches the bone this means we are heading towards breaking point. This also means the country is heading towards breaking point.

But let it be recorded that, yes, there was high seriousness in the government, the Finance and Budget Committee or in the Cabinet in discussing the budget. First, it is an expression of our seriousness and our responsibility in approaching the economic and financial situation. Second, as a result of the need pass a strong budget from Parliament. If the budget was passed weak, it will affect the reputation of Lebanon at the state institutions and abroad.

The third point: which is very important to us. Some of the main recommendations we made in the Finance and Budget Committee as well as in the government were endorsed. In the Parliament, we found that if we gave our confidence to the budget we might achieve some gains for the people. There are no gains for Hezbollah, when talking as a political party. There are also no gains in the sectarian or regional sense. No, the gains are for the people. Because there isn’t much time, I will give a couple of examples. The first, we had a very big problem in the issue of imposing a 2% tax on all imports. Certainly these taxes will affect a huge segment of the poor. So we strongly rejected this. Other political parties and us rejected it. A compromise was offered. We either agree on the 2% tax. This could have obtained the required majority in the Parliament. Or we could vote with them and cancel the 2% and replace it with 3% tax on imports that are mostly luxury goods. The better-off can endure it, while it does not directly affect the poor.

The second example: there was a discussion regarding gasoline since it was included in the 3%. It was excluded at the last minute. We told them that there was no problem. There was also a very big discussion over the issue of the 100 million that they take as VAT. They wanted to reduce it to 50 million. We told them if you leave the law as it was, we will agree with you. 

Exempting Lebanese University professors from the three-year employment freeze. If employment in the Lebanese University was put to a freeze for three years, it might collapse. The Lebanese University is the university of the entire homeland. It is the university for the Lebanese people, the poor people of all sects. No one should say that the Lebanese University is the university of the poor people of a certain sect. Thank God, today and unfortunately, poverty transcends all sects. There were also other points that we discussed. But we considered that if these points were met, we will give confidence to the budget to fulfill these achievements.

This is a precedent. It is true that it is a precedent, but it will not remain a unique precedent. This is a beginning. This beginning says that because of its new influential position in the Lebanese equation, Hezbollah will take responsibility more than ever than ever regarding the economic and financial issue.

The second topic is the rights of the Palestinian workers.

Under the banner ‘we want to create job opportunities for the Lebanese’, which is a good, honorable and correct objective, they said let us apply the labor law because job opportunities generally go to non-Lebanese. They, however, collided with the Palestinian workers file. It is so unfortunate that everything in Lebanon is being politicized. Everything is used to harm others and incite internal strife. For example, when our Palestinian brethren protested at the gates of the refugee camps, some said that Hezbollah and Hamas are provoking these protests and strikes. On what basis? 

When you want to prevent a Palestinian or non-Palestinian from working – regardless of the reasons – and when you deprive him from looking for his livelihood, he does not need anyone to tell him to protest and strike. On the contrary, he is already being provoked. He needs someone to calm him down. He needs someone to tell him, ‘come, I want to help you. Let us address this issue.’ 

But this is what happens not only in Lebanon but in the world too. Bolton, for example, said a few days ago that Hezbollah was interfering in Venezuela, defending President Maduro and protecting dictatorships in Latin America. Where, in Latin America!!

In any case, there are some segments of the Lebanese population that have sensitivity towards Palestinian employment. If we told them that Hezbollah is provoking the Palestinians to protest in the refugee camps, this means we are provoking this segment and particularly the Christians against Hezbollah. This is shameful and immoral because this is a lie. This is injustice. This is not true. This is a falsification of the facts.

Concerning the Palestinians and Palestinian employment in Lebanon, the issue must be addressed in a humanitarian, moral and legal manner. There are no elections now. There are still two and a half years for the elections. What is the rush, I don’t know! This matter should be addressed calmly.

In our opinion, there is a big difference between the Palestinian worker and the foreign worker. The priority is for the Lebanese worker. There is no debate about that. But when it comes to foreign workers, the Palestinian worker is characterized by two important aspects.

The first is that he has no country to return to work – with all due respect to the displaced Syrians. The Syrians have the opportunity to return to Syria and work in Syria. The Sudanese worker has a country to which he can return. The Egyptian worker has a country to which he can return. But to which country will the Palestinians go back? Where's their country? Their country is under occupation. When voices rise from the Palestinian camps, some Lebanese respond to them and tell them to go back to their country and work there. Great, open up the border for them! Keep the Lebanese army away from the border and let the Palestinians return to occupied Palestine. Aren’t you asking them to return to their country? This is the way to their country.

The first aspect is that the Palestinians have been refugees for many years and have no country to return to because their country is occupied. The second aspect is that the issue of the Palestinian worker is linked to a political and national cause agreed upon by Lebanon and the Arab world which is the Palestinian cause. This is not a purely technical matter. It is a political and strategic matter par excellence and should be approached from this angle. No one should confuse between granting labor rights to the Palestinians and naturalizing them. They are not related. Naturalization is one thing, and the Palestinian laborers working in Lebanon within certain disciplines and facilities is another thing. 

So regarding this matter, we call for calm. We call for everyone to be calm, to stop bidding, to stop issuing slogans and for the government to address this matter calmly. The Prime Minister promised the deputies in Parliament that he will deal with matter with the Minister of Labor. We call on a Palestinian-Lebanese dialogue. Let there be a Palestinian-Lebanese dialogue and deal with the Palestinian workers from this perspective. It should not be said Lebanese and non-Lebanese workers. There are Lebanese workers, Palestinian workers and other foreign workers whose situations are different from the Palestinian laborers.

Please stop grandstanding. We hope this matter will be addressed scientifically, objectively, morally and humanely and away from concerns and grandstanding.

The last point is the government issue. I read in the newspapers in the past couple of days that a certain person will deliver an address on Friday and will, Good willing, resolve the government issue and determine the path forward.

Let me emphasize the fundamentals of understanding and analysis to clarify the situation. And in the end, I will say our position. In this country, any one thing and its opposite are said by the same people and from the same sources. They say the thing and its opposite at the same hour, on the same day, and sometimes in the same speech and in the same article they write.

The First item: There is always someone in Lebanon who is portraying that Hezbollah is governing Lebanon. I spoke about this matter earlier. They are portraying that Hezbollah controls the government and the parliament. We struggled until we managed to secure 2% and 3%. It was addressed at the last minute. They are portraying that Hezbollah controls the Parliament, the judiciary, the security services, the army, the state administration, the institutions, the airport, the crossings, the borders, as well as above and below the ground. Hezbollah is the absolute ruler of Lebanon. This is the biggest lie in the history of Lebanon. This is falsification. This is not true. I want to delve into the inferences. I can offer 50 or 100 evidences and incidents that Hezbollah is not the ruler of Lebanon. What is happening in Lebanon is contrary to Hezbollah’s will, desire and aspirations. This is the first point.

Which confirms this point is when you accuse us of disrupting the government. If this were a Hezbollah government, why would we disrupt it? If we were in charge of the Lebanese judiciary and the Lebanese government, the Qabr Shamoun case would have been sent to the Judiciary Council the second day of the incident. We would have gathered the Cabinet, put the weapon on the table and asked them to refer the case to the Judiciary Council. They would then refer the case to the Judiciary Council. This is what happens when you are the ruler of Lebanon. How can you accuse us of ruling the country and crippling ourselves!
 
The second item: What is the reason behind this insistence that Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanon? They know they are lying. They know they are being unjust. They know they are falsifying. They know they are misleading Lebanese public opinion. There are objectives. This is not without any purpose. Otherwise, I can say that we are the ruler of Lebanon and we are the supreme leader. What we want, we get. It is not about media grandstanding. There are objectives behind this matter.

One of its objectives is to hold Hezbollah accountable in front of the Lebanese people for all the consequences, disadvantages, calamities, gaps and corruption in Lebanon. That is, since you are the ruler of Lebanon, why is the situation like this? Since Hezbollah is the ruler, why is this happening? Since Hezbollah is the ruler, why is there no drinking water in Dahiye? Since Hezbollah is the ruler, why is he depriving the resident of Dahiye from drinking water? Since Hezbollah is the ruler, why are there no job opportunities? Since Hezbollah is the ruler, why is there no justice? The objective is to offend Hezbollah, incite people against it and holding it responsible for the difficult situation in Lebanon, which the Lebanese have inherited from decades of civil war and corruption, etc.

The second objective is to incite the world and the US against Lebanon. This is not a simple story. No one should laughs when a politician says that Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanese. I tell you. This should even be approached judicially. This is inciting the United States against Lebanon. This is an incitement of the countries of the world against Lebanon. This is an incitement against Lebanon, its economy, the aid, sanctions, banks, CEDAR and everything. Everyone is lying falsely and unfairly that Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanon, inciting Lebanon to the international and regional levels, inciting the country against Lebanon, inciting “Israel” against Lebanon, you are your problem with all of Lebanon because Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanon. You mouths, but to stop lying, forgery and misinformation.

Every person who falsely and unjustly claims that Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanon is inciting against Lebanon internationally and regionally. He is inciting Saudi Arabia against Lebanon and inciting “Israel” against Lebanon. It is as if he is saying ‘your problem is with all of Lebanon because Hezbollah is the ruler of Lebanon.’ In my opinion, a judicial file should be established for this issue, not to silence people but to stop the lies, falsification and deception.
 
In the internal issue: We have been and will remain like this. There is a wrong understanding of our relationship with our allies, of course, a wrong understanding among our opponents and with our allies. Our allies do not have this misconception because there is a long history between us. 

We respect our allies. We do not impose anything on them. We do not tell them to ask us about anything. They make their own decisions. They vote the way they want in Parliament. When a deputy who is our ally and we helped him in the elections stands against us, we do not have a problem. That is his right. We respect him and respect his thoughts. We respect our allies. We do not impose anything on them or pressure them. It is shameful – because there are people who behave in this manner – when they say that Hezbollah uses its Druze allies in the Druze arena, uses its Sunni allies in the Sunni arena and its Christian allies in the Christian arena. You might use your allies and see them as tools, but we never do. Our allies are dear to us. They are respected. We do not accept for us to use a friend or an ally. We do not accept it for them as well. Any talk of this kind is insulting to us and to them. This should always be kept in mind.

Based on the first and second, I enter to the dilemma that now exists, which is called the Qabr Shamoun incident. Some say it has crippled the country.

The Qabr Shamoun incident resulted in the martyrdom of dear people from the convoy of Minister Saleh al-Gharib. The minister himself was almost killed. I don not want to use legal descriptions whether it was an ambush or not. Even though the investigations say it was an ambush. But there were shooting, martyrs, wounded and a minister of the state who was almost killed. This minister belonged to the party of our ally and friend, Prince Talal Arslan, who demanded to refer the incident to the Judiciary Council because this incident nearly jeopardized civil peace and security in the country.

I want to repeat and say that Prince Talal did not ask us. We have always been like this. We are not double-faced. What I tell Prince Talal in internal sessions, I say it in the media.  What I tell you in your presence is what I say in your absence. We are like this. How the others want to be is their business. The man did not ask us. It is not his duty to ask us. We do not blame him for not asking. It is his natural right. The deceased belonged to his party and he is the decision maker in his party. He has decided. He did not ask us or consult us. We found out about the incident like the rest of the people, from the television. Our ally has been killed, and in fact this incident nearly jeopardized civil peace and security in the country. So the demand is a rightful one. One of our allies and friends is bereaved. Prince Talal is asking that the case be presented to the Judiciary Council. We are with him. Do you know what we did, O Lebanese? To all those who are writing articles and going on television, all what Hezbollah did was say ‘we are with you in this matter, Prince.” We did not pressure anyone or protested. We did not threaten anyone. 

Now it is being said someone is being targeted and that Hezbollah and Prince Talal are targeting a certain person, leadership, family or party. This is what I want to address. It is an insult to us and to him for someone to say that Prince Talal is a tool Hezbollah or Syria is using to blockade someone or launch a war at someone or incite sectarianism in Lebanon. All of this is injustice, lies, falsification of facts, misleading of the public opinion and evading the truth and what happened. We are disrupting the government! We are not disrupting it. We attended the first session and we were ready to attend it with understanding. The Prime Minister said ‘let us postpone because there is still tension. What will happen in Cabinet when a minister who was nearly killed and a minister who is accused of being behind the assassination meet? That is why the meeting was postponed. I repeat and say let the government meet. We are not saying that the government should not meet. The Prime Minister does not want to bring the government together because he is afraid of the atmosphere in the meeting. This is normal. A big problem took place. Why is people’s blood being taken lightly like this?

It was then said that the government should meet but not discuss this matter. It’s strange. We say discuss the matter regardless of the outcome and the vote. There is a minister among you who was nearly killed. He is your colleague who sits with you at the same table in the government. There are 16 or 17 bullets piercing his car. And you want to hold a cabinet meeting and talk about regular articles and ignore the fact that your brother, friend and a minister in this government is forbidden to discuss this issue! What logic is this? 

This should have been the third item and I forgot to mention it. I want to say something very clearly. When I was saying that this is how we deal with our allies and that we do not use our allies because that is shameful to say, I wanted to continue and say that we had a problem with someone, we would directly confront them. We confront them using our media, with our voices and with our presence. We do not confront using fronts. Never. The weak, the scared and the fraudster might resort to this method. We never resort to this method. Some might this is cleverness. I would like to tell anyone in Lebanon, including any political party or politician who consider that Hezbollah is targeting someone politically, judicially or through the media, when Hezbollah has a problem with you, it will confront you with its voice, media, politicians, deputies, ministers. It will confront you under the light of day and publically. It will not hide behind an ally, a friend, the media, a newspaper or anyone at all. Keep this in mind because we are not weak or cowards. We are full of courage, logic and rightful when we want to confront someone. We never pit one against the other. Never! 

They are brothers. Ask our Christian allies. Did we ever pit the Free Patriotic Movement against the Lebanese Forces? When they reached the Merab Agreement, they just informed us and put us in the picture. We told them ‘do what you see fir, trust God, and do what is in your interest. During the consultation meeting, we were mediating with the Prime Minister. We told him ‘these are your brothers and your family, received them, sit with them and talk to them.’ Regarding the Druze sect, we hope that the leaders of this community sit, discuss and solve their problems in the best way possible.

We did not pit one against the other and we do not pit one against the other.

Therefore, we are with holding a government session as soon as possible. Let this issue be discussed in the government session. Where is the problem? It is not normal that a minister in your government, a minister in the Lebanese government, gets nearly killed and regular articles are discussed.

Three, I understand very well why they are saying that Hezbollah is using Prince Talal to obstruct the government. They are doing so to pressure us and Prince Talal to give up his right. That is the objective, my brothers. I tell them pressure and talk as much as you want. This is our position for those waiting for a solution, a solution at the expense of whom? How is it a solution? From the first day of the incident, from the first hours, we told Prince Talal, the blood was spilt from your party, the martyr’s family belong to the party that you head. You are our allies and you are our friends and this is your right. If you made this decision, we are with you and by your side. We will vote with you and will not abandon you. We are not asking Prince Talal to consult us regarding the consolations and we are not offering him initiatives. I am ashamed to offer him initiatives. I did not veto anything. Never! Whatever decision he makes, we are with him. This is what respect means. This is what friendship is. This is how people’s rights are preserved. No one avoid the Qabr Shamoun challenge and say that this a targeting of a sect, leadership, party or anyone. This was an incident. There were martyrs who fell. People were attacked. The country was almost destroyed. There are proposals to address the issue. Discuss the matter within this framework. Do not make the matter bigger than it is so you won’t lose it.

As for Hezbollah, I conclude by saying regarding this case, we are not obstructing the government. If the Prime Minister calls for a meeting tomorrow, our ministers will be the first to attend.  It is logical for him to demand a discussion of a case this size. We did not put any pressure on Prince Talal or the brothers in his party or the families of the martyrs. We are with them in whatever they decide, whether it goes to the Judiciary Council or he accepts another solution. He is the decision maker and we are behind him. We have his back. I am not saying that he is the decision maker, so you can pressure him. I am saying he is the decision maker, so you will not pressure us and expect from us to pressure him. The solution should be appropriate and within this mechanism.

A quick word. I categorically deny the claim of the “Israeli” delegate to the Security Council that Hezbollah is using the Beirut port to transfer weapons or components of weapons to Lebanon. With all honesty I deny it. If this were true, I would remain silent and not deny it. But this allegation comes in context of introductions to imposing guardianship some in Lebanon want, guardianship over the port, the airport and the border. One of the objectives of the July war they failed to achieve was to bring multinational forces to the port, to the airport and to the border. This claim might be an introduction for it.

In this matter, there must be a Lebanese national responsibility. This matter should not be put to biddings because if someone has a problem with Hezbollah and puts the port of Beirut in danger. With all sincerity, courage and clarity – I do not need to swear – say that this claim is incorrect.

The talk about the issue of illegal and illegal border crossings is a big file. We will talk about it later.

I must also conclude by condemning the acts of destruction and judaization “Israel” is committing against al-Quds, the city of al-Quds, the surrounding villages and the demolition of Palestinian homes. This comes in the context of the Deal of the Century as well as some unannounced, real and official Arab support.

Of course, we support any Palestinian position. The announcement of the President of the Palestinian Authority yesterday regarding the cessation of all agreements with the “Israeli” enemy, no doubt, exerts pressure. But the most important thing in all agreements is to put pressure on the “Israelis”. The Palestinians know this. We are not the ones to show them. They know this, but we are speaking openly. Ending the security coordination with the “Israelis” will pressure “Israel”. It is not afraid of the International Criminal Court or the Security Council. It is not afraid of anyone in this world because it knows America is protecting it. America will protect it wherever it was. Yesterday, it used the veto in the UN Security Council. The only thing that hurts the “Israelis” is security coordination. This weapon is in the hands of the Authority, and it can resort to it to prevent the demolition of more Palestinian homes.

Our brothers and sisters in Jihad al-Bina, many happy returns to all of you. Peace, Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon you.

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