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Rabin Rules out Meeting with Lebanese Christian Representatives

Premier Yitzhak Rabin has ruled out a meeting with the representatives of Christian villages in southern Lebanon because Israel’s policy is not to intervene in the internal affairs of its neighbors. Speaking during a debate yesterday in the Knesset, Rabin confirmed reports that the Lebanese had sought a meeting with him and that he had refused.

He said, however, that Israel was keeping a close watch on political and military developments in Lebanon and would continue to extend humanitarian aid to any Lebanese who requested it, whether Christian or Moslem.

Sources here reported yesterday that an Israeli Maronite Christian had made it known that Lebanese villagers in the border region wanted to meet with Rabin to discuss current problems. They said that Rabin declined and would not delegate one of his aides to meet with the villagers

BITTER KNESSET POLEMICS

Most of Rabin’s Knesset speech was devoted to countering a Likud no-confidence motion. The Knesset eventually struck the motion from the agenda but the polemics were bitter and were viewed as the opening shots in the campaign for next year’s elections.

Likud MK Simha Ehrlich attacked the Rabin government for procrastination and an inability to make decisions. “It is impossible to count all the decisions that have not been implemented,” Ehrlich said.

He listed among the government’s “failures” the appointment of Asher Yadlin to be Governor of the Bank of Israel which had to be rescinded after Yadlin’s arrest last week on bribery charges; the personal rivalries between Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres; and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon’s recent article in Foreign Affairs Quarterly outlining the territorial basis for a peace settlement with the Arabs. Ehrlich also accused the government of adopting an inflated economic program to “bribe” the voters in next year’s elections.

Rabin said he did not under-estimate Likud’s ability to fill the role of opposition party because Likud would be filling that role for a long time “even if it sees castles in the air.” To which Meir Payil, of the leftist Moked faction, replied: “With your kind of castles Likud may get there yet.”

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