The Lebanese Parliament will meet next Wednesday to debate controversial $1 billion in EU aid.

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Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s office announced on Tuesday that the assembly will meet next Wednesday, May 15, to discuss the $1 billion financial package delivered by the EU last week to support the country’s faltering economy and security forces.

During a visit to Lebanon last week, EU chief Ursula von der Leyen announced $1 billion in aid for the country and urged it to address illegal migration to the EU.

A sizable segment of the Lebanese political elite has opposed the aid package since its announcement on Thursday, accusing it of being an attempt to “bribe” the country’s citizens into accepting the ongoing presence of Syrian migrants on their soil.

The acting prime minister, Najib Mikati, has refuted these charges. L’Orient Today was informed by a Western diplomatic source that the Europeans have no plans to settle Syrians on Lebanese soil.

Leader of the Free Patriot Movement Gebran Bassil said on Saturday that the country needed a “political decision” to send migrants back to Syria rather than money, which was one of the criticisms directed towards the agreement. The Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rai pleaded with Lebanon the following day to resist “pressure and temptations” from the European Union.

To discuss the aid, the FPM’s “Strong Lebanon” parliamentary bloc met with Abdallah Bou Habib, the acting foreign minister, on Tuesday. Lebanon’s rights are too important to be compromised by any agreement with the EU, FPM MP Nicholas Sehnaoui reportedly stated, according to the state-run National News Agency. The Syrian presence in Lebanon, he insisted, is “an existential cause.” “What is happening in Lebanon is an ethnic cleansing of citizens to replace them with others, and this is not less important than the genocide that is happening in occupied Palestine,” Sehnaoui said.

As per the official data provided by the UNHCR, there are 1.5 million Syrians living in Lebanon, out of which 779,645 are officially registered with the organization. The Lebanese government halted Syrian refugees’ UNHCR registration in 2015.

As per the constitution, Parliament becomes the body that elects the president in the absence of the former; nevertheless, it has been convening periodically to enact urgent laws.

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