Eric Gozlan

Omar Harfouch, the Lebanese politician who wants peace with Israel

Omar Harforch (Private photo of Eric Gozlan)
Omar Harforch (Private photo of Eric Gozlan)

The situation in Lebanon is increasingly catastrophic. Since November 2022, the country has been without a government. According to the World Bank, Lebanon “is going through one of the worst economic crises in the world since 1850”. The Lebanese pound has lost 95% of its value since late 2019 and inflation is reaching unimaginable heights. In addition, a significant number of children are out of school, 80% of the population lives below the poverty line and the water system is so dilapidated that cholera has returned to the country.

If the Lebanese political landscape is getting darker and darker, those who are interested in this country have been able to discover a new politician who not only wishes to give back to his country its marks of nobility, but above all understands that without peace with its neighbors Lebanon will not be able to get out of the chaos.

This providential man is called Omar Harfouch.

Omar Harfouch is an entrepreneur who has worked in many countries. If he is known in Europe as a musician, the Lebanese have appreciated for years his commitment to their country. Trained in the conservatories of Soviet Ukraine, he speaks six languages.

Omar Harfouch created a resounding surprise when he spoke about the relations between Lebanon and Israel. He is the first Lebanese politician to do so.

In an exclusive interview with Lebanon’s MTV channel, Omr Harfouch said: “There is no need for resistance after the agreement with Israel, and Hezbollah must integrate into the Lebanese army. He is optimistic about the demarcation of maritime borders, and Israel is no longer an enemy country for Lebanon, and we have signed an economic peace.

“I am very optimistic about the demarcation of the [maritime] border. First of all, we solved a big problem with [Israel] which was an enemy of Lebanon and which we did not recognize. Today we recognize it, and it is no longer an enemy of Lebanon. This is a big challenge…”

His domestic policy program is based on the creation of a third Republic by modernizing many sectors:

Changing the voting system in the Lebanese elections

For Omar Harfouch, the President of the Republic must be elected by universal suffrage to give real power to the president.

He also wants the confessional system to be abolished. Until now, the different positions in the executive and legislative branches are attributed according to religion.

Changing the tax system

The Lebanese tax system is obsolete. Therefore, it proposes a fair and redistributive tax. This tax will be proportional to the income of the inhabitants.

Fighting corruption

Lebanon has the unfortunate privilege of being ranked 154th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s global corruption perception index. Omar Harfouch wants to create an independent anti-corruption judicial pole.

Changing the judicial system

According to him, the first battle must be that of an independent justice and to do this, he wants to create a new judicial organization of the country.

Promoting equality between men and women in Lebanon

Omar Harfouch has been known for many years for his fight against discrimination between men and women. In 2000, he denounced the harassment and violence of which young models were victims by some managers of the Elite agency.

In September 2021, he organized a first conference in the French Senate to ask for a change in the law on the statute of limitations for sexual crimes. A proposal for a European resolution will be submitted.

In October 2022, he organizes a second conference at the European Parliament to incite Europe to commit itself more strongly in the fight against violence against women.

Omar Harfouch wishes to abolish a little-known Lebanese law: if a Lebanese woman marries a foreigner, the children of this woman will not be able to have Lebanese nationality. As a result of this rule, many children find themselves stateless in their country.

Omar Harfouch will of course be criticized by those who have put Lebanon in such a state. Mariano José, a 19th century Spanish writer wrote about people like this candidate: “Genius like the cedar of Lebanon grows on the peaks. It grows and strengthens in the storm and not in the shallows.”

About the Author
Eric Gozlan is Government Counselor and co-director of the international Council for diplomacy and dialogue. He works in civic diplomacy in the Middle East and in Africa. He has received numerous awards for peace and gives numerous lectures. He served in the IDF for several years.
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