Lebanon's Hezbollah deputy Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in Beirut's suburbs, February 28, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Sharif Karim)

Hezbollah Deputy Defends Push For Proportional Representation

Author: annahar Posted May 17, 2012

In an interview with An-Nahar, Deputy Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sheikh Naim Qassem, says that an electoral law agreement can only be reached through a dialog that involves all parties. Hezbollah, for its part, is willing to enter such a dialog with "whichever party that accepts it. At the end of the day, the Parliament, which is represented by all parties, will issue an electoral law." Qassem argued that regional events do not affect the "resistance's preparedness."

SummaryPrint In an interview with An-Nahar, Sheikh Qassem, Deputy Secretary-General outlines the party’s military achievements against Israel in Lebanon, and defends Hezbollah’s rationale for proposing a new electoral law that will introduce proportional representation for parliamentary elections.
Author Abbas Al-Sabbagh Posted May 17, 2012
TranslatorsSahar Ghoussoub Sami-Joe Abboud

[Read the full interview]

An-Nahar:  How does Hezbollah describe the anniversary of the liberation, 12 years after the Israeli army was defeated in Lebanon?

Qassem : Israel's humiliating, unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon on May 25, 2000 was a unique, exceptional and unprecedented event in Arab-Israeli history concerning the Palestinian issue. It was the first great and significant victory. In fact, Israel’s withdrawal from approximately 1000 square kilometers was a historic moment that demonstrated its inability to continue occupying Lebanese territory under the intense operations carried out by the resistance.The May 25 liberation and the resistance’s accomplishments are unparalleled in Lebanese history, aside from independence. Those who criticize and undermine this holiday, or who try to compare it to other events, are simply covering up the clear truth with an illusion.

An-Nahar:  What about the last operation introduced by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah about attacking specific targets in Tel Aviv?

Qassem: The preparations that are currently underway are certainly more important, better and more powerful than the preparations made during the July 2006 war. Following that aggression, the resistance has been working to better equip itself, and it has learned lessons from its experiences. In other words, the resistance is now capable of attacking specific targets in Tel Aviv. We think that the quantitative and qualitative balance of power is necessary to stop Israel from attacking Lebanon. We are also convinced that, had it not been for deterrence and constantly improving the resistance’s readiness, Israel would have attacked several villages and towns since 2006, potentially killing many people.

The resistance’s readiness is completely unrelated to local, regional or international developments. Our preparations follow their own course, and our team has gone beyond expectations. Those betting that regional events will affect the resistance's readiness are absolutely wrong.

***

In his last speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary-General of Hezbollah, said that his party supports proportional representation in the next parliamentary elections. Qassem explains the advantages of this system in the secular terms used by secular parties, who argue that they cannot gather all their supporters in one constituency since they are scattered throughout the country.

Qassem:  We will defend and discuss this proposal with the parties. We are introducing this concept to the public in order to protect the voters’ choices. However, we are willing to discuss this electoral law with the parties that reject it in order to find common ground and to ensure that a just electoral system is established.

We will not close the door on dialog regarding proportional representation. We only express our support for and approval of this electoral system. Those who reject this system have not provided any valid justification for refuting the proposal. They link proportional representation with the issue of Hezbollah’s weapons, saying that this proposal cannot be implemented while Hezbollah still possesses arms. This is a puzzling argument. No one will put a gun to anyone’s head and force them choose certain candidates.

Moreover, weapons were absent from the 2009 elections. Before the election results were out, certain parties proclaimed that if these results did not turn out to the advantage of the March 14 coalition, it would only be because the elections were held under the threat of arms. It deserves mentioning that international observers confirmed the legitimacy of the electoral process. In the end, March 14 won the 2009 elections and the weapons accusation was dropped.

***

Qassem believes that “there is no such thing as an electoral weapon, just electoral money. We repeat once again that the resistance’s weapons are directed at Israel only.” He said that there is no reason to postpone the elections.

Finally, the Deputy Secretary-General said. “We hope to hold a dialog with any party that is willing to debate with us because, at the end of the day, the parliament will issue the electoral law. However, dialog is meaningless if it does not include all parties. We ought to put all suggestions on the table so that we can come up with the best option.

Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/politics/2012/05/qassem-to-al-nahar-on-eve-of-lib.html

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