Aoun Voices Concern over U.S. Move on Golan Heights, Syrian Refugees Crisis

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Aoun Voices Concern over U.S. Move on Golan Heights, Syrian Refugees Crisis

President Michel Aoun on Sunday warned that the U.S. decision to recognize the Golan Heights as Israeli territory threatens Lebanon's sovereignty given that a part of the country's lands are still occupied by Israel.

“This decision does not only jeopardize the sovereignty of a brotherly country, but also threatens the sovereignty of the Lebanese state which owns the Shebaa Farms, the Kfarshouba Hills and the northern part of Al-Ghajar town that have been all gradually bitten off by Israel,” Aoun sadi in his speech at the Arab League summit in Tunisia.

"Lebanon's ownership of these lands is proved by documents and maps that are acknowledged internationally," he noted.

“What would be the fate of the Arab League's peace initiative after what happened? Will there be peace after the land is lost? How can we, as small countries, feel reassured when international charters and rights are being dashed, and when the international legitimacy which governs the U.N.-recognized borders between states is being undermined?" Aoun asked.

"How will we face these schemes and violations against out rights? Is it by keeping the borders between our countries closed? Is it by keeping certain seats at the Arab League vacant?"

Aoun suggested that Syria would be readmitted into the Arab League after its membership was suspended in 2011, saying that it is time to consolidate inter-Arab unity in order to be able to face the growing challenges.

Turning to the lingering Syrian refugee crisis that is still burdening Lebanon, Aoun renewed his call to ensure the return of refugees to their country, adding that Lebanon is no longer able to host the equivalent of half of its citizens.

"Lebanon will definitely not accept any form of naturalization," he affirmed.

"We are concerned by the international community's insistence on keeping the Syrian refugees in Lebanon despite knowing that the country is no longer able to endure this burden which is weighing it down on the economic, social and security levels, [...]. We are concerned by the insistence on linking the refugees' return to a political solution in Syria, and by giving the priority to this settlement which we all know that it may take a lot of time," Aoun said.

"We are concerned by the 'voluntary return' term, and by the approach according to which one and a half million refugees are being dealt with as political refugees whereas most of them had come to Lebanon because of security and economic issues which usually prevail during wars."

"Is the international community seeking to turn the refugees into hostages to be used as a pressure tool against Syria and Lebanon to force the acceptance of the solutions that may be imposed later?" he wondered.