TEL AVIV (Jul. 25)
The Dubek Cigarette Co., Israel’s largest cigarette manufacturer, bought 20 tons of tobacco from Lebanese growers in the first large scale commercial transaction across the northern border. Up to now all trade has been on an individual basis but tobacco growers organized and elected a representative to deal with the Israelis.
The growers were paid in Israeli currency which can be used to buy food, fuel and other commodities in short supply in southern Lebanon. Israel is expected to buy hundreds of tons of tobacco from the Lebanese farmers.
Although southern Lebanon has been spared the ravages of the civil war, the economic situation there is bad. Many people are out of work and there have been several requests that Israeli authorities allow the Lebanese to take jobs in Israel. However, there are several problems that would have to be worked out first, including what the effect would be on West Bank workers.
If permission is granted it will probably be only for agricultural workers, although construction workers and technicians might be included at a later date. Meanwhile, it was learned that the Syrians are publishing a paper for the areas of Lebanon they hold which provides the Syrian position in the Lebanese situation.