Saad Hariri Image Credit: Agency

Beirut: The first draft policy statement that defined Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s government was approved by the full cabinet meeting at Baabda Palace on Saturday, although Lebanese Forces ministers along with Michel Pharaon, the independent but pro-March 14 State Minister for Planning Affairs, rejected the clause that empowered Hezbollah.

The statement, which included the slogan Al Jaysh, Al Sha‘ab, Al Muqawamah (army, people, resistance), will now be referred to Speaker Nabih Berri and consequently to parliament, which will debate its contents and, presumably, vote in favour of the government in a “confidence session”.

According to press reports, the Cabinet endorsed the same clause that was used in the policy statement of Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s 2014-2016 government regarding the so-called army-people-resistance equation.

Hezbollah representatives insisted that the statement include the clause about “confronting terrorism in a pre-emptive and deterrent manner”, which is what occurred, in what was yet another example of Hariri accommodating the Iran-backed March 8 agenda.

According to the LF, it would have been much better to replace the clause that read the “right of the people for resistance”, with the “right of the Lebanese State for resistance”, ostensibly to bring everyone under the authority of the state.

On Friday, the committee chaired by Hariri and attended by ministers Marwan Hamadeh (PSP), Mohammad Fneish (Hezbollah), Ali Hassan Khalil (AMAL), Nouhad Al Mashnouq (Future), Salim Jreissati (FPM), Yousuf Fenianos (Marada) and Pierre Bou Assi (LF), settled on the draft.

Aoun had earlier announced that the statement would be derived from his oath of office, “whose content has been approved by all parties”, though March 8 pressure was apparently too strong for Aoun to insist on his pledges.

In his October 31 oath of office declaration, Aoun promised to endorse an “independent foreign policy” and to protect Lebanon from “the fires burning across the region”.

He did not mention the ‘army, people, resistance’ triptych, but he did say: “We will spare no effort or resistance to liberate any Lebanese territory that is still under occupation or to protect our country from an enemy that still has ambitions regarding our land, water and national resources”.