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Israel Maintains Normal Policy Toward Lebanon, Foreign Ministry Says

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Israel has not adopted any change in its policy toward Lebanon “as it has been defined for several years.” the Foreign Ministry reiterated today. The ministry’s statement came in the wake of a Cabinet meeting at which the situation in Israel’s northern neighbor was discussed.

Commentators on Kol Israel, the State radio, today defined the situation in Lebanon as a continuation of Syrian and Egyptian attempts to subvert the regime. They said that these attempts had taken place intermittently for a dozen years, recalling how in 1958 United States Marines landed to prevent a Nasserite takeover of the Government.

“This time the Palestinian Arab cause is being used as a pretext by Syria and Egypt out of the knowledge that few Arab statesmen will dare come out against it,” the commentators said.

They noted that during a long weekend of pre-election speeches there had been no references to Lebanon and it was assumed that “this silence on events going on right next door has been imposed on purpose.”

The Foreign Ministry has disavowed a statement by Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon, construed by many as a threat to intervene militarily if the Beirut regime was overthrown by pro-guerrilla elements. The ministry said that the view was that of Mr. Allon personally and not that of the Government.

Speaking Thursday at Kibbutz Givat Brenner, Mr. Allon said that the fall of Lebanon would undermine its cease-fire agreement with Israel. “Israel would have to take all possible measures to guarantee her security on the northern borders. Israel cannot be indifferent to what is happening in Lebanon. We cannot ignore a change for the worse in the status quo of this neighboring country,” he said. Strict observance of the cease-fire and safeguarding of Israel’s territorial integrity have been key elements of Israeli policy toward Lebanon over the years, the ministry said.

(Mr. Allon’s remarks were deplored by the U.S. State Department as “unhelpful.” A spokesman said that the U.S. was “concerned that statements from any quarter may increase the level of tension in the Middle East.” The U.S. is “trying to maintain a moderate posture,” the Department said.

(The U.S. does not contemplate intervening in Lebanon and has been working with the British and French Governments to try to defuse the situation, but there has been no contact with the Russians, sources in Washington said. The U.S. has no military commitments to Lebanon. Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco said recently that the U.S. attaches “great importance to Lebanon’s independence and integrity” and that “we would view with great concern any threat to that integrity from any source.” Asked if guerrilla action against Lebanon from Syria constituted a violation of that integrity, a State Department spokesman declined to reply.

(The Soviet Union, voicing concern over the conflict in Lebanon, called for non-interference by the West in a matter that is “within the competence of the Arab states themselves.” It called the Sisco statement a possible pretext for U.S. involvement. Moscow blamed the situation on “mounting tension. . . caused by the Israeli aggression, the aftermath of which has not yet been fulfilled.”)

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