TEL AVIV (Jan. 16)
Israeli forces today evacuated four villages they held in Lebanese territory in accordance with an agreement reached last week between Jewish and Lebanese representatives providing for the release of the villages but stipulating that the Jews would retain small strips inside Lebanon required for Israel’s security in that area, it was learned here. The agreement was reached after noon two meetings held on the Israeli-Lebanese frontier.
Reports that Israel and Lebanon are preparing to negotiate on the question of the Israeli-Lebanese frontier were denied here today by Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok who said the “reports are baseless.”
Earlier, Israeli Army Chief of Operations Col. Yigal Yadin and Eliahu Sassoon, of the Foreign Ministry, returned here from Rhodes to report to the Cabinet on the present stage of armistice negotiations being conducted between Israel and Egypt on Greek island under the chairmanship of acting U.N. Palestine mediator Dr. Ralph Bunche. Col. David Shaltiel, Army Inspector-General and former commander in the Jerusalem area, went to Rhodes yesterday to substitute for Yadin while the latter is fin Israel.
The only agreement reached to date between Israel and Egypt at the Rhodes armistice talks, it was reported here over the weekend, stipulates that Dr. Bunche is authorized to issue communiques on the Rhodes conferences.
Meanwhile, informed circles said here today that recent British moves have apparently not had any effect whatsoever on the contact which the Israeli Government maintains with Transjordan. These same quarters indicated that Israel, in addition to the armistice talks proceeding with Egypt on Rhodes, is maintaining contact with Lebanon and Trans Jordan.
It is understood here that the temporary return of Eliahu Sassoon to Tel Aviv from Rhodes was a result of the progress being made by the Jews in their talks with the Lebanese. On the whole, informed circles here are optimistic over the progress made to date at the Rhodes conferences.