SAT 7 - 12 - 2019
Date: Oct 3, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Committees discuss laws, reject Israel’s missile site claims
Timour Azhari| The Daily Star
BEIRUT: Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee rejected Israeli claims that Hezbollah had precision missile sites near Beirut’s international airport Tuesday, as it and other committees met to study a raft of draft laws.

“Israel has not previously needed excuses [for an attack on Lebanon], so there is a fear they will carry out new attacks [after the recent threats],” said Nabatieh MP Yassine Jaber, head of the Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Committee, according to the state-run National News Agency.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week claimed that Hezbollah had three precision missile sites around Beirut’s international airport a claim that caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil has described as a “prelude” to a new Israeli attack.

Monday, Bassil organized a tour of one of the sites Ahed Stadium with dozens of foreign ambassadors and diplomats in an effort to prove there were no missiles there.

“The ... committee denounced the allegations and praised ... Bassil’s initiative in exposing the allegations by bringing together the Arab and foreign diplomatic corps in Lebanon,” the NNA quoted Jaber as saying.

The MP also announced the committee would visit the Lebanese Army and UNIFIL in southern Lebanon in order to review the situation there and show support for the force.

Meanwhile, the Administration and Justice Committee, chaired by Chouf MP George Adwan, discussed a new media law that would bring together the various laws that now separately govern the sector, including the Publications Law and the current Media Law.

While the committee was previously set to study a separate amendment to the Publications Law that would have added modern language, committee member and Chouf MP Bilal Abdullah told The Daily Star lawmakers were now leaning toward drafting one new law that incorporates all legislation related to media.

“It’s better to tie them together. We are aiming to organize this sector to be inclusive of new media, because the old laws don’t say anything about online publications and social media,” Abdullah said.

Tuesday’s session had focused on a comparative analysis article by article of the new version of the law with the old one, Abdullah said.

The Public Works, Transportation, Energy and Water Committee also held a session to assess the success of a provision in the 2017 state budget that mandated property owners who occupy seaside property that is legally owned by the public to pay yearly taxes. Chouf MP Mohammad Hajjar, a member of the committee, told The Daily Star the review of the 2017 coastal property taxation had found the measure had “gone well, but requires some amendments,” without elaborating.

The committee also studied a draft law put forward by Baabda MP Hikmat Dib that would set new building regulations for decorative roof tiling, which used to be common across Lebanon but is now found mostly in mountain villages.

The law would regulate the construction of a special floor atop buildings, creating a slant on which the tiles are set, Hajjar said.

A subcommittee of Parliament’s joint committees headed by Metn MP Ibrahim Kanaan held discussions on a draft law for a sovereign wealth fund for potential proceeds from the oil and gas sector in Lebanon.

A statement from Kanaan’s office said a comparative analysis of the draft law had been held against Norway’s version of a sovereign wealth fund law. The draft law was studied article by article, reaching its fourth, with lawmakers agreeing to continue study in the next session, which has yet to be scheduled.

The main themes of the study include the objectives, composition and management of the fund, with the “preservation of oil assets for future generations” in mind.

Exploratory drilling is set to begin in two maritime areas off Lebanon’s shore in early 2019.

The Education and Culture Committee held a session on the National Strategy to Prevent Violent Extremism, with Rubina Abu Zeinab, head of the national council on the matter, giving a presentation on the education-related parts of the strategy.

While the committee’s chair and rapporteur, Sidon MP Bahia Hariri and Akkar MP Assaad Dergham, respectively, could not be reached for comment, Abu Zeinab told The Daily Star the discussion had focused on how to translate the strategy goals into legislation.

“The education part of the strategy is about skill-building, interventions through education, working on curriculum and especially focusing on critical thinking and global citizenship,” Abu Zeinab said.

“It’s a joint effort with all 29 [ministers] in the government.

“Today, with our intervention, we were looking to promote legislation that prevents violent extremism based on scientific research.”

The National Economy, Trade, Industry and Planning Committee, chaired by Kesrouan MP Neemat Frem, met at noon to discuss the economic situation in Lebanon.

Neither Frem nor several other committee members could be reached for comment, nor could members of the Media and Communications Committee, which met to listen to experts regarding cybersecurity in Lebanon.

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