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Israel Concedes That It is Concerned About Future of Relations with Lebanon

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Israel conceded today that it is concerned over the situation in Lebanon. A high-level source told newsmen that the worry was over two possibilities—that the present regime in Beirut might be deposed by an extremist Arab Government and that Palestinian guerrillas might take over the southern region of Lebanon which borders on Israel.

In the event of the downfall of President Charles Helou, there would be nothing that Israel could do, the source said. But should the guerrillas take over certain border areas as a result of the Cairo agreement between the Lebanese authorities and Palestinian commandos, Israel would regard the guerrilla enclave as a separate sovereignty and might resort to “active defense.” The implication was that Israel would feel free to mount preventive strikes against any guerrilla enclave.

Yesterday a Foreign Ministry spokesman denied a report published in the Washington Post that Israel had quietly informed President Helou that it had no plans to attack Lebanon because of the Cairo agreement. David Rivlin said that Israel’s position has been made quite clear. “She will not tolerate lawlessness on her northern border and will hold Lebanon responsible for the cease-fire.” Earlier, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon warned Lebanon and Syria that they faced retaliation if they permitted Arab commandos to mount attacks on Israel from their territory.

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