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Christian Comma Nders in Lebanon Agree to Let Unifil into South

The adamant refusal of Christian commanders in southern Lebanon to allow units of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) to carry out their mandate in southern Lebanon has been ended by an agreement between UNIFIL and the Christian commanders in the area reached through the good offices of Israel, officials here reported today.

Under the agreement, UNIFIL will be permitted to set up observation posts inside the Christian enclaves in southern Lebanon, and along the Lebanese-Israel border and have freedom of movement in the Christian enclaves.

The agreement was discussed today by Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, chief to the UN peace-keeping forces in the Middle East.

Earlier reports of a meeting with Weizman and Siilasvuo on the impasse had stressed Israel’s view that it could not force the embattled Christians to accept Israel’s point of view on the UNIFIL request for aid in persuading the Lebanese Christians to accept UNIFIL deployment. Absence of that Israeli disclaimer from the report on the Weizman-Siilasvuo meeting today indicated a breakthrough in the deadlock between UNIFIL and the Christian commanders.

Under the agreement, UNIFIL lookouts will be permitted in the largest villages of the enclaves–one at Marj Ayoun in the eastern enclave and the other at Bint Jubiel in the central enclave. UNIFIL observation posts will be set up at the village of Shiya, UNIFIL observation posts will be built along the Israeli border and UNIFIL units will be free to move in the enclaves. Roadblocks will be removed to make such movement possible.

CHRISTIAN, ISRAELI VIEWS

The Christian commanders, in justifying their ban on UNIFIL, said UNIFIL troops had been instructed to replace the Israeli army in an area occupied by Israel forces in a major raid last March and evacuated by Israel when it pulled back its forces to Israel soil. The Christian leaders argued that the enclaves were not occupied by Israeli forces and therefore UNIFIL had no authority to enter the enclaves.

The Christian commanders also contended that it was the duly of UNIFIL forces to prevent the return of Arab terrorists into the evacuated area and that so long as UNIFIL was not preventing terrorists from infiltrating into southern Lebanon, the Christians had to defend themselves, a defense which the presence of UNIFIL units would have prevented.

Israel’s position was that UNIFIL should be allowed by the Christians to carry out its duties under the UN Security Council resolution of last March, under which UNIFIL had been organized but that it could not force the Christian commanders to comply. The sources said talks have been proceeding continuously and that Israeli officials apparently succeeded in convincing Major Sa’ad Haddad, commander of the Christian Lebanese forces, that he should cooperate with UNIFIL. The agreement, however, does not affect the Lebanese army unit which was to have moved into southern Lebanon and which has been pinned down by Christian militia fire near Kaukaba for several weeks.

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