WASHINGTON (Oct. 3)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir predicted today that all foreign forces — Syrian, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israeli — could be out of Lebanon by the “end of this year.”
But Shamir, appearing on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program, indicated that Israeli forces may not leave Baabda, site of the Lebanese Presidential Palace three miles from Beirut and the area just south of Beirut International Airport, until “a timetable” is drown up for the withdrawal of all troops, despite demands by the U.S. that they leave those two areas now. Shamir said departure from those areas as part of the general withdrawal “must be the logical conclusion.”
The Israeli Foreign Minister said he based his optimism on talks he had with U.S. special envoy Philip Habib. He said Habib told him that if the Syrians are willing to leave Lebanon as they promised, the only problem is the technicalities of withdrawal. Shamir said if that happens, he does not believe PLO forces in northern Lebanon and the Bekao valley would stay in Lebanon.
“I don’t think the PLO will remain there without the protection of Syrian troops,” he said. “And we have no intention to stay an additional moment in Lebanon when all the other forces will leave Lebanese territory.”
Shamir said Israel’s security on its northern borders will have to be worked out between the governments of Israel and Lebanon. He said it could not be done by an international force –such as the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) — or by a multinational force such as that composed of U.S. marines, French and Italian troops, now in Beirut.
He said the reason was that the PLO would try to re-infiltrate the territory and only the Lebanese army would be willing to fight them. Shamir, added that Israel did not want to have U.S. marines protecting its border.
He indicated that a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon would be needed for this to be accomplished. He stressed that such a treaty would be in the “interests” of both Lebanon and Israel. “I believe the majority of the Lebanese people is convinced that such a peace is necessary, ” he said.
Shamir rejected a suggestion that the Reagan Administration has lost “trust” in Israel because of its activities in Lebanon and its rejection of President Reagan’s Middle East peace plan. He said he felt no drop in trust from the Administration and that while there are political differences between Israel and the U.S., this is not the first time. He said he expected the U.S. and Israel to “find out how to narrow those differences.”
Shamir also rejected the view that support for Israel has eroded in the American Jewish community. “I don’t think there is a change in the determination of the Jewish community in the U.S. to support Israel,” he said. “They will always support Israel.”
He added that while there may have been some “doubts” about some of Israel’s actions, this is “normal” and “natural.” He said both Israel and the U.S. are democracies and “everyone is entitled to have his own views. But I don’t think there is a change in the support of the Jewish community in the U.S. for the State of Israel,” he said.