"The People of south Lebanon will not leave their land"
Commenting on the expected withdrawal by Israel from the security zone and its consequences on the population of that area,the Vice-President for the Middle East at the World Lebanese Organization (WLO), Colonel Charbel Barakat told French radio Europe 1 that "the People of south Lebanon are not planning to leave their land." Barakat was the deputy commander of the Free Lebanon Army under Major Saad Haddad and the Director for Foreign Affairs of the South Lebanon Army under General Antoine Lahad.
Interviewed by George Malbrunot of Europe 1, he said: "we hear many reports and rumors about the transfer of the people of this area to other countries in the region or across the Oceans. As far as we know, we the people of south Lebanon have been struggling for 23 years to defend our homes and land. Had we aimed at leaving, we could have done it years ago.
The essence of our struggle since 1976 was to allow our people and our future generations to remain free on that land." Barakat added that "there is real commitment by the people and freedom fighters of this area to defend our villages and towns. The analysts who are circulating such rumors must realize that when time will come, they are for a real surprise."

In a phone interview with Arutz 7 radio (broadcasting from Israel), Middle East Studies Professor Walid Phares from Florida said one missing component of the political process with regards the Israeli withdrawal from the security zone is the political will of the population of that area. This matter is under negotiation and claim by many parties with the exception of the legitimate native population of the area. The people of the border area must be heard by the international community," said Phares, who has published a detailed academic study on southern Lebanon with the Ariel Center for Public Policy last year. This study, which argued for the establishment of an interim form of local government in south Lebanon until the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon seems to be the only viable option which would avoid an ethnic cleansing of the southern Lebanese, particularly the Christians, said several reviewers of the study at several discussion forums discussing the Phares project held in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Florida few months ago. Phares explained his thesis in several university and community lectures in Miami, Columbia Demoines, New York, Washington, as well as in London and Rome over the past year and a half.