State Department spokesman Ned Price announced Thursday that “the United States joins the Lebanese authorities in calling for calm and de-escalation in Lebanon.
Price offered the United States’ condolences to the Lebanese people, and to those affected by Thursday’s events outside the Palace of Justice in Beirut. He said in his daily press conference, “The health and future of democracy in Lebanon depends on the ability of the Lebanese people to address difficult issues and they trust the role of law in their country and through a peaceful dialogue with the new government.”
Price reiterated, “rejecting any threat of violence and intimidation against any judiciary in any country.” “We support the independence of the Lebanese judiciary,” he said, “and judges must not be threatened and must be free from any threat and intimidation, including from Hezbollah.”
“As I said before, Hezbollah’s terrorist and illegal activities undermine Lebanon’s security, stability and sovereignty,” he added.
Price’s comments came, following armed clashes in the capital, Beirut, on Thursday, which left six dead and nearly thirty wounded.
Unidentified persons opened fire, during a demonstration by Hezbollah and Amal supporters against the judicial investigator in the Beirut port explosion case, Tariq Bitar.
In recent days, Bitar was subjected to a campaign of pressure led by Hezbollah, to object to his summoning of former ministers and security personnel for questioning in the context of investigations related to the Beirut bombing, which killed 218 people.
On August 4, 2020, a huge explosion killed at least 214 people and injured more than 6,500 others, in addition to extensive destruction in the capital.
Hezbollah and its ally Amal Movement lead the position rejecting Bitar’s work, accusing him of “acceptance and politicization”, which prompted the United States to express its rejection of what it described as “intimidation” of the judge of the Beirut port explosion file, Tariq Bitar, considering that “Hezbollah’s terrorism undermines Lebanon’s sovereignty.
Last Tuesday, Price said in a press conference, in response to a question by Al-Hurra: “We and the international community have said several times that we support and call on the Lebanese authorities to complete the investigation into the terrible explosion in the port of Beirut quickly and transparently.”
“The victims of the 2020 explosion deserve justice and accountability, and we oppose the threat of any judge and support the independence of the Lebanese judiciary,” he added.
He stressed that “judges should not be subjected to threats and intimidation, including from Hezbollah.
“We have been clear for a long time that Hezbollah’s terrorist activities threaten Lebanon’s security, sovereignty and stability,” he said.
He went on to say, “We believe that Hezbollah is more concerned about its own interests and the interests of its sponsor, Iran, than it is about the interests of the Lebanese people.”
For the third time in a row, investigations into the Beirut port explosion case were suspended on Tuesday, while the judicial investigator, Judge Tariq Al-Bitar, issued an arrest warrant in absentia against the former Minister of Finance, Ali Hassan Khalil