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juillet 11, 1997
11 juillet 1997
The Honorable Benjamin A. Gilman, Chairman
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Please allow me first to thank you for providing me the opportunity to appear before your Comittee last month to present my perspectives on the current situation in Lebanon, and to offer my own prescription for beginning to resolve the tensions in my country. remove all foreign forces from our soil and fully restore our dignity and sovereignty.
Our people were encouraged by your hearing to know that there are such important leaders as you in Washington who genuinely are concerned with our plight. That is why I was pleased to outline an interim step towards regional peace which I hope will form the basis of a new U.S. initiative.
There is enclosed a paper I have written which provides more detail on the plan I outlined in my testimony. I would be grateful for your comments and reaction and would encourage you to impress upon the Clinton administration the urgency of our situation. Although I do not know how long this current window of opportunity will remain open. I do know that if people of good will do not act rapidly to assist us, Lebanon's institutions and the very fabric of our society will be torn apart to the point they never will be in a condition to be restored.
Although I did not address the question of easing restrictions on U.S. travel to Lebanon because this paper is intended to be broader in scope, should there be any action to lift the ban, I urge strongly that such a move be made only in the context of the ports of the plan which call for Lebanese government assent to Israeli withdrawal from my country, effective border security arrangements with Israel and redeployment of Syrian forces in compliance with the Taef Agreement. This will strengthen the security all over the country and mainly in and around the Beirut airport.
If the record of your hearing remains open, please feel free to incorporate my letter and plan into it, if you beleive it would be appropriate to do so.
juillet 11, 1997
Again, I must say how pleased I was to appear before your Committee and how humbled I was at your suggestion that I might play a role in achieving the goals of this plan. As I said in Washington, I will never rest until peace and security is restored in Lebanon. Please feel free to contact me at any time in the future if I can be of further assistance to you or members of your Committee.
juillet 11, 1997
THE GEMAYEL PLAN:
AN INTERIM STEP TOWARDS REGIONAL PEACE
With progress towards peace in the Middle East currently stalled, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel has stepped into the breach to offer what U.S. Rep. Ben Gilman described as a fair, reasonable and constructive proposal for an interim first step towards a general settlement in the region. Gilman, Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, made these remarks at his June 25 hearing on Lebanon in Washington following the former president's testimony, during which Mr. Gemayel unveiled his plan.
A paradigm for peace, not a fuse for war
The Gemayel Plan is based on the belief that Lebanon can most usefully serve as a paradigm for the general peace process, from which other settlements can be built, at the same time removing what continues to be a fuse which has the potential to reignite war at any time.
Mr. Gemayel believes resolution of the tensions in and over Lebanon would constitute a breakthrough in the peace process while simultaneously helping restore Lebanon's full independence and sovereignty. As the State Department itself testified at Chairman Gilman's hearing, the 60,000-strong Lebanese army has been rebuilt, modernized and now is receiving professional training to the extent that, with the help of UNIFIL, it has the capacity to maintain order in the country.
The window of opportunity
The former president believes that, in the face of the current stalemate, there is a window of opportunity for holding talks on his plan. All the parties involved in the bloody conflict on the Lebanon-Israeli borders-Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Hizbollah-have made policy statements which could form the basis for inviting the governments involved to the table to begin a genuine dialogue:
The government of Lebanon has expressed support for United Nations Security Council Resolutions 425 and 426, which call for an Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon and for the establishment of permanent security arrangements;
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, through his «Lebanon First» proposal, has offered a plan to withdraw the Israeli army from Lebanon on condition of ensuring the security of Israel's northern borders;
Hizbollah has stated that it is prepared to disarm once Israel has withdrawn its forces from Lebanon.
juillet 11, 1997
Damascus, which, with 30,000 soldiers in Lebanon, has a strong influence on the Lebanese government, could be expected to react positively to a new initiative which would resume the stalled dialogue between Damascus and Washington and revive Syria-Israel negotiations in jeopardy.
The United States as catalyst
What is needed to jump-start this process right now, according to Mr. Gemayel, is a catalyst. He believes that because of its power, prestige and longstanding role in the region, the United States is best positioned to take advantage of this awindow of opportunity» to bring together the three governments-Lebanon, Israel and Syria-again, as they came together in the 1991 Madrid Conference, to develop a mechanism for the implementation oi this plan. The U.S. can help rebuild confidence which is sorely lacking at the current time among some of the main Arab parties involved in the peace process with Israel, with Lebanon as the paradigm for peace.
The elements of the plan
The former Lebanese head of state believes that for his plan to succeed, it is essential that it be negotiated as an integrated package under U.S. leadership, with an incremental approach to restoring Lebanon's security under full sovereignty. There are three fundamental principles to which he would hope all parties would subscribe as a basis for negotiations on specific implementing steps:
1. Israeli withdrawal and strong, effective security arrangements to be achieved in southern Lebanon, under U.S. leadership, in compliance with U.N. resolution 425 and 426, and in accordance with Mr. Netanyahu's «Lebanon First» proposal;
2. The redeployment of the Syrian army in the eastern Lebanon border as a first
step towards full withdrawal, in compliance to the 1989 Taif Agreement, which the U.S. has endorsed.
3. Development of a timetable for the achievement of genuine, national
consensus in preparation for free and fair elections in which, under international supervision, all citizens of Lebanon would participate.
Mr. Gemayel believes realization of the his Interim Step Towards Regional Peace would be an important breakthrough which would end the stalemate while creating a new momentum and confidence towards a general peace settlement.
Question for the Record Submitted to
June 25, 1997
Answer Incorporates Information as of June 25, 1997
information as of August 1, 1997)
Lebanon-Syria negotiations should have been held in 1992 for a Syrian troop redeployment from most of Lebanon under the 1989 Taif agreements.
Does the State Department expect Lebanon will request the negotiations with Syria to discuss Syrian troop redeployment and withdrawal from Lebanon? If so, when?
What is the reason for the failure of Syria and Lebanon to agree on a redeployment as envisioned by the Taif Accord?
Has the State Department ever raised the issue of Syrian redeployment with either the Lebanese or Syrian governments? If so, when, and what is their reaction? not, why not?
The position of the United States in support of Lebanon
is clear and unchanged.
The U.S. remains committed to
Lebanon's full independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We look forward to the day when Lebanon, at
peace with her neighbors and free of all foreign forces,
resumes its traditional place in the Middle East.
The State Department has raised the issue of Syrian
redeployment with the Lebanese government.
have informed us that, in their view, Syrian troop
withdrawal would be premature.
The U.S. is committed to the
implementation of the Taif Accord and continues to support
UN Resolution 425.