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Rabin Urges Caution in Providing Aid to Christians in Lebanon

Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin suggested today that Israel should exercise prudence in its assistance to Christians in Lebanon. He advised the government to continue its aid “but not beyond the present framework.” Rabin’s remarks, in a speech in the border town of Kiryat Shemona, were seen as a direct reply to Herut MK Moshe Arens, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who had warned yesterday that Israel must not allow the Christians in Lebanon “to go under.”

Rabin was the first major public figure in Israel to speak against an escalation of Israel’s involvement in Lebanon. He was sharply critical of the Christian leadership which has split into quarreling factions. “first they must prove that they have inner unity before they can come to us with demands for help,” Rabin said.

Rabin, who was Israel’s Chief of Staff during the 1967 Six-Day War, did not see a military threat to Israel from Syrian activities in Lebanon. He said the Syrian intent was to suppress the Christian community but not cause incidents with Israel that would jeopardize the Camp David agreements.

He said the Syrian army was unprepared for a confrontation with Israel, partly because it was spread thin along the Golan Heights-Lebanese front. “If I were the Syrian Chief of Staff, I would not seek to provoke Israeli intervention,” Rabin said.

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