Tue, Sep 12, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Lebanese parties accuse Blair of `war crimes'

THE GUARDIAN , BEIRUT

A Lebanese woman carries a banner denouncing British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a demonstration in Beirut to protest against his visit to Lebanon yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

Hezbollah and a coalition of secular parties, as well as Lebanon's senior Shiite cleric, have warned British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he is not welcome in Lebanon, describing him as a partner in Israel's 34-day war with Hezbollah, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians.

Blair was scheduled to arrive in Beirut yesterday.

In an attempt to prevent demonstrations, the government on Sunday created a buffer zone around the parliament and other official buildings, a measure which some fear will anger the country's anti-US camp.

The Lebanese Communist party, the Peoples' Movement and independent secular parties issued a statement rejecting Blair's visit.

"Anyone who meets with Blair will be considered a partner in the Israeli aggression," it read.

Hezbollah, which has two ministers in the Lebanese Cabinet, has not issued an official statement.

However, its senior politburo member, Galeb Abu Zeinab, has said that the party holds Blair largely responsible for the level of violence that was heaped upon Lebanon in July and believes he should be prosecuted for war crimes.

"Blair was a true partner in the killing of children and the destruction of thousands of homes," Zeinab said. "If he hadn't fully supported the US-Israeli position, the war would not have happened ... the way it did."

"He is a full partner in the atrocities and I think he should be prosecuted as a war criminal alongside [US President George W.]Bush and [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert," Zeinab added, claiming to be speaking on behalf of most Lebanese people.

"You could go to any part of the country and anyone you speak to will give Blair a major portion of the blame," he said.

Lebanon's most senior Shiite cleric, Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, criticized Blair on Sunday for not calling for an early truce and for allowing US weapons to be shipped via Britain to Israel.

Many of those weapons were used by Israel during its 34-day war with Lebanon, which began on July 12.

Fadlallah also criticized the Lebanese government for allowing the British prime minister's visit.

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