Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai denounced the persisting presidential deadlock, whose consequences revealed the real “intentions” of certain parties in power. He expressed concern that these parties are not upholding the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution, particularly undermining the judiciary.

“In practice, Lebanon has shifted from a secular state into a religious, sectarian and confessional one, as evidenced by the appointment of individuals, especially in the judiciary,” he stressed during his Sunday sermon in Bkerke.

Regarding Israel’s actions in Gaza, he reiterated his condemnation of what he views as Israel’s attempt to “exterminate the Palestinian people” and called for adherence to Security Council Resolution 1701. “We have urged the Israelis and the Lebanese to respect Resolution 1701 to safeguard southern border towns from bombardment, casualties, displacement and destruction.”

The Patriarch urgently called for a “permanent ceasefire, with negotiations and political and diplomatic solutions, aiming at establishing a two-state solution,” in line with the UN decision found in Resolution 181 dated November 29, 1947.

He emphasized, “Everyone knows that the creation of a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for ending the ongoing war in Palestine.”

Rai also asserted that Lebanon could potentially serve as a political and diplomatic mediator in pursuit of this goal. To fulfill this role, however, Lebanon requires a president. “As long as Lebanon is deprived of a president, the country will lose its neutrality by being drawn into regional wars and conflicts that it does not want,” he stated.