Gemayel, Zaki headline reconciliation confab

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Gemayel, Zaki headline reconciliation confab

Post by Admin on Thu Apr 17, 2008 4:17 am

"People
do not learn from history, but learn [in the stream of] history -
through bitter trials, rather than from what is written and read
concerning the past," former President Amin Gemayel said during a
conference on Tuesday to mark the signing of mutual forgiveness pacts
by Lebanese Christian and Palestinian leaders and commemorate the 33rd
anniversary of the eruption of the 1975-1990 Civil War.


An
apology issued in January by Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO)
representative to Lebanon Abbas Zaki expressed Palestinian regrets with
respect to earlier actions in Lebanon and set in motion a process that
resulted in the signing of an apologetic declaration by 44 prominent
Christian Lebanese figures.


The
"Openness and Reconciliation" conference was convened under the
auspices of the Phalange Party at its Saifi headquarters in cooperation
with Zaki, Walid Jumblatt's Democratic Gathering, and the Democratic
Left party.


In
reference to the 1969 Cairo Agreement, which legalized armed PLO
efforts to combat Israel, Gemayel emphasized the need to recognize
Lebanese sovereignty, noting that the sometimes conflicting "logic of
the state and logic of revolution" should be reconciled under the
banner of a sovereign state.


However,
Gemayel also asseerted that "we should - rather than remember the
battles and heroism that occurred between us and the Palestinians -
recall the relationship between Lebanon and Palestine before the Naqba
[of 1948 ] ... the social, cultural, and spiritual proximity between
our two peoples that made Palestine, of all Arab states, closest to
Lebanon."


The
former president continued to draw parallels between the Lebanese and
Palestinians, adding: "If it is true that the Palestinians have lacked
a state for 60 years, it is also true that we Lebanese have suffered
the same for the past 40 years."

Gemayel
lamented the "delay in establishing a single Palestinian authority"
capable of being dealt with as the representative of "the [Palestinian]
Authority that governs in the Palestinian Territories," also saying
that the Palestinians in Lebanon were welcome as political refugees,
but that "any surrender of the right to return is a failed vision."


Zaki
then explained his move to apologize earlier this year, placing it
within the context of a new "Palestinian [approach] in Lebanon adopted
in 2006, but slowed by the July war" with Israel and the ensuing
political crisis.

According
to Zaki, the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp clashes last year between Fatah
al-Islam and the Lebanese Army made it difficult to cement the notion
that "our camps cannot be centers for those seeking to escape justice."


"We
adopted an [approach] of existence in Lebanon - we recognized the
temporary nature of our presence, strive to refrain from interference
in Lebanese affairs, and maintain equal distance from all internal
Lebanese [factions]," said Zaki.


Participants
repeatedly linked reconciliation to the broader process ostensibly
initiated by the 1989 Taif Accord that ended the Civil War.


The
Lebanese-Palestinian rapprochement was placed in a wider context
reflected by the Gemayel-Jumblatt "Mukhtara Paper" settlement and the
2001 "Mountain Reconciliation" between Jumblatt and Maronite Patriarch
Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, broadening the scope to address the initial
dynamics of the Civil War in addition to historically turbulent
communal relations in Lebanon.


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