Lebanese president attends Doha meeting amid internal divisions
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman headed Thursday night for Doha to attend the emergency meeting on Gaza amid internal division concerning Lebanon's participation in a summit which does not enjoy Arab consensus, Al-Akhbar daily reported Friday.
The presidential palace announced last night that Suleiman left for Qatar, and would participate in the emergency meeting if the quorum of Arab states participants is reached, otherwise, the president would hold consultations with Arab leaders there, reported Xinhua.
Sources from the presidential palace said that "the president did not refuse to participate in the summit, nor was he pressured by any side."
However, anti-Israeli protesters carried out by the opposition parties shouted slogans against Suleiman Thursday, during a protest near the U.S. embassy in Awkar, eastern Beirut.
During the past couple of days, the president's participate in the Arab summit is controversial. "The president does not want Lebanon to be a party or a side in the Arab internal conflict," the sources added.
Reports also said that Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah chief Hasan Nasrallah sent earlier a message to Suleiman, saying that " any boycott of the Arab emergency summit, would be dealt with as taking the side which is against the Palestinian people."
On Jan. 14, 16 Arab League (AL) members have agreed to hold an emergency summit on Gaza issue in Doha on Friday, reaching the quorum of two thirds of the 22-member AL to hold such a summit, but later in the day, three member states quit.
Qatar has called for an Arab summit three times since the Israel launched military operation on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27, but none was convened because some countries, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were not in favor.
The Lebanese majority ruling coalition leaders, who are allies with Saudi Arabia and "Arab moderate States" have been pushing against Lebanon's participation in the emergency summit, unless there is an Arab unanimous participation, which is not going to happen so far.