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Cabinet Accepts in Principle Habib Plan for Departure of the PLO from West Beirut

The Israel Cabinet accepted today in ##ple, but raised substantive issues about the plan worked out by special Presidential envoy Phili Habib for the departure from west Beirut of some 6,000 trapped Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists.

One of the preconditions the Cabinet placed on its provisional approval was getting a list of the Arab countries in which the terrorists would be given a haven. The Israeli demands for changes in the Habib plan were sent to the special U.S. envoy during the special Cabinet session today which examined the plan.

The plan was understood to have been approved by PLO chief Yasir Arafat, but Israel Television said Arafat had not signed his acceptance, it was also reported to have been accepted by Lebanon. One of the Ministers emerging from the special session said he felt the problem of the timing of the deployment of the multinational force in west Beirut to oversee the departure of the terrorists could be solved. The Minister, whose name was not disclosed, said the main problem was still the countries to which the terrorists would be transferred.

Dan Meridor, the Cabinet Secretary, described the government’s proposals for changes in the Habib plan as “substantive and textual.”

Meridor said that “a precondition for any decision on the contents of the (Habib) document is that the government of Israel receive a full list of all the countries of destination ready to accept the terrorists.” He said “the total number” of terrorists the host countries would be committed to receive would have to be “absolutely equivalent to the number of terrorists in Beirut.”

Another continuing point of Israeli concern was that once the multinational force was in place in Beirut, the PLO might revert to its policy of foot dragging, a concern related to the issue of where the terrorists would go, and how quickly.

Israel was understood to fear the possibility of a situction in which the multinational unit would be deployed in west Beirut and the terrorists would remain in west Beirut for lack of countries committed to receiving them, a development which would considerably reduce Israel’s potential leverage on the trapped terrorists.

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