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Cabinet Begins Drafting Ideas for Talks with Habib Aimed at Preventing Terrorists Returning

The Cabinet met today to draft instructions for a ministerial subcommittee which is to begin talks this afternoon with U.S. special envoy Philip Habib on the future of Lebanon. The Israelis are expected to present their own ideas that would free Israel permanently from the threat of shelling by Palestinian terrorists in south Lebanon.

The ideas are said to include continued occupation by Israeli troops of the areas of Lebanon they control pending the establishment of an international force with a strong American component to replace them. They envision a clear mandate for that force to prevent the forward movement of any Palestinian or other forces hostile to Israel to within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of Israel’s border.

They also apparently want the U.S. to take the initiative to ensure the departure of all foreign forces from Lebanon, including the Syrian army and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Israel is opposed to the creation of any new United Nations force that would be subject to a Soviet veto.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported today that a “handful of Ministers” had been critical of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon at Cabinet meetings during the past week for allegedly keeping them in the dark as to what his next moves in Lebanon would be. They accused Sharon of “leading them by the nose and stringing them along” by not fully disclosing his plans.

MINISTERS UNHAPPY WITH SHARON

Asher Wallfish, the Post’s well informed political reporter, identified the Cabinet members most at odds with Sharon as Communications Minister Mordechai Zipori and Education Minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party. They were supported in some of their complaints by Interior Minister Yosef Burg, also of the NRP and by Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich and Energy Minister Yitzhak Berman, both of Likud’s Liberal Party wing.

Wallfish reported that the ministers were unhappy that Sharon, often with only the backing of Premier Menachem Begin, ordered moves without the Cabinet’s prior knowledge which would inevitably lead to complications that would require Cabinet approval after the fact. Wallfish reported that Sharon was angered by the sharp questioning of his fellow ministers and their mistrust of his actions.

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