Ismail said: “I have received confirmation from the brothers in Syria that they [support]…Lebanese consensus and support our efforts.”
Syria’s backing is seen as essential in forging any compromise in Lebanon. Though its troops left the country more than 18 months ago, Damascus still wields influence on many groups, the most powerful of which is Hezbollah.
Siniora has previously refused opposition demands, stating that Hezbollah want to place Lebanon under the tutelage of Syria and Iran.
Importantly, however, Siniora has welcomed the proposals contained within the Arab League initiative.
One-third, plus one
“The Lebanese people should put all their conflicts aside and plan for their future.”
Abdalle Ibrahim, Islamabad, Pakistan
Two significant points within the Arab League are proposed changes in the make up of the Lebanese cabinet and veto power.
The Arab League plan would see the total number of ministers rise to 30. Two-thirds would include the parliamentary majority while one third would represent the opposition.
However, the opposition has reservations about the issue of one-third minority.
One-third of the parliament is not enough to give the minority the veto power they require, so the oppostion have placed demands on negotiations for a one-third minority “plus one” to empower them with the veto.
Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Beirut, said that there is no confirmation that Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary-general of Hezbollah, has agreed to the Arab League initiative, although he has “welcomed the plan and will deal with any initiative in a positive way”.
No thirst for power
Hezbollah officials are keen to show that they don’t have a problem if they are not part of the government.
Officials have remarked that they have no thirst for power. They have said that they are not trying to maximise political power on the back of the war with Israel and that they are ready for seats to be given to their allies, including that of Michel Aoun, leader of the Christian Free Patriotic Movement party.
|Siniora has accused Nasrallah of plotting a coup|
“Any agreement that includes this proposal, will be a first step towards progress,” Khodr said.
Ibrahim Moussawi, the political editor of a Hezbollah magazine, said that the organisation has no problem with the development of an international tribunal, but the detail of such a proposal will have important implications for the country.
“They want to make sure that the mandate of this tribunal didn’t extend to some place where it would put the sovereignty of the country at risk,” he said.
Intense diplomatic activity will take place on Monday, led by Ismail, and on Tuesday with the arrival Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary-general. Both will work to mediate between both political camps.
If no agreement is reached, fears remain that protests will escalate.