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Israel to Withdraw All Its Forces from Lebanon, but No Date is Set

Israel will eventually withdraw its forces completely from Lebanon, Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. But no date has been set for the final withdrawal, he said.

In his first appearance before the committee since he took office last month, Eitan said that cooperation between Israeli forces and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been satisfactory to date. He said UNIFIL has succeeded in preventing terrorist infiltration into south Lebanon in some cases but failed in others. There are “problems which have not been solved,” Eitan said, and he will be meeting shortly with Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, supreme commander of UN forces in the Middle East to discuss the situation.

Eitan said the Israel army presence in south Lebanon is necessary until UNIFIL can deploy its troops effectively over the entire area and is capable of preventing the return of terrorists to the region.

He indicated that this will not be possible until UNIFIL receives the 2000 additional soldiers approved by the UN Security Council last week which will bring its forces up to 6000 men. Until then, Israel will continue to hold a 10-kilometer-deep security belt running the entire length of the Lebanese border.

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