Israel Giving Habib More Time to Negotiate PLO Departure from Lebanon

Israel is giving U.S. special envoy Philip Habib more time to negotiate an agreement for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s departure from west Beirut and Lebanon. That decision was reached by Premier Menachem Begin after consulting with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday.

Shamir said on a television interview last night, however, that the time “cannot be unlimited The situation cannot continue indefinitely.” He set no deadline for Habib to achieve results. Begin, Shamir and Sharon reportedly agreed to await the outcome of the meetings tentatively set for next week in Washington between Administration officials and the Foreign Ministers of Saudi Arabia and Syria before Israel forces the issue in west Beirut.

HOPEFUL SYRIA WILL AGREE

The Israeli leaders are hopeful that Syria will agree to host the PLO after they leave Lebanon and believe some sort of arrangement may be worked out in Washington. However, Israel will not give the political negotiations another 30 days to bear fruit, as suggested by Secretary of State-designate George Shultz in his remarks before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this week.

Israel’s forebearance so far is attributed here to a stern warning Begin received from President Reagan last week not to launch a direct assault on west Beirut. There is also Reagan’s conditional offer to send a contingent of U.S. troops to Beirut to supervise the PLO evacuation. Shamir said in his interview that Israel would permit a multinational force only after a sizeable number of PLO men have left Lebanon.

He also denied that Israel has any desire to see the Palestinians depose King Hussein of Jordan, a scheme said to be favored by Sharon. But he repeated the contention that Jordan is a “Palestinian state.”

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