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Raed Khoury: Lebanon’s Government Stands Despite Divisions | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Minister Khoury attends an economic forum in Beirut on May 5, 2017/Dalati&Nohra

Beirut- Economy Minister Raed Khoury said on Friday that the Lebanese government would not fall despite divisions among its members.

“The government will stand due to an agreement reached between all Lebanese sides to keep disputes aside and work on what unites us in the benefit of Lebanon and the people,” he said in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat.

The minister rejected accusations against “Hezbollah” of trying to harvest the fruits of the Lebanese army’s victory in the Jurud battle. Khoury spoke about the continuous Israeli threats against Lebanon and the need to remain attached to the “Army, People, Resistance” formula to protect the country.

Last week, the Lebanese army ended its “Jurud Dawn” battle against ISIS after a first of its kind agreement was reached between “Hezbollah” and the extremist organization and later blessed by the Syrian regime to allow a safe passage for ISIS militants to Syria’s Deir Ezzor after the terrorist group uncovered the fate of the captured Lebanese soldiers, who had been missing for the past three years.

However, the agreement led to large scale criticism by the Lebanese people who rejected a deal with the militants.

Commenting on the issue, Khoury, who represents the Free Patriotic Movement, said: “The Lebanese should be proud of the army that did not announce the end of the battle before achieving all its targets.”

According to the minister, the Jurud battle mainly aimed to “liberate the land and uncover the fate of the captured Lebanese soldiers with the least damages, and not to kill the terrorists.”

He said that Hezbollah’s agreement with the ISIS militants came at the last phase of the battle, after the terrorists had almost surrendered.

Khoury said that Hezbollah had no say in the Jurud Dawn battle, although the party had claimed the opposite.

Commenting on calls that Hezbollah hands over its arms particularly after the Lebanese army proved being capable of engaging in difficult battles, Khoury said: “Such a request is currently irrational. We live in region that is constantly threatened by Israel and terrorists, a situation which requires cooperation among all parties.”