JERUSALEM (Oct. 5)
Israel’s position on the withdrawal of “all foreign forces” from Lebanon was presented to U.S. special envoy Morris Draper at a meeting here today with Premier Menachem Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon. Draper, who has the rank of Ambassador, arrived last night.
The Israelis are standing firm in their demand that the first step in the evacuation must be the departure of Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists from Tripoli in northern Lebanon and the Bekao valley in eastern Lebanon. The PLO men have concentrated in those regions since the main body of the PLO left west Beirut last month.
Israeli forces will not be withdrawn until the PLO departure is completed, Draper reportedly has been told. The Israeli pull-out will then take place in conjunction with the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon, to be accomplished in stages over a period of several weeks.
Israel also insists on direct negotiations with the Lebanese government to ensure that the PLO will not return to Lebanon. It envisages a security belt of about 45 kilometers depth north of the Israeli border. Another Israeli demand is a guarantee of the status of its ally, Maj. Saad Haddad’s Christian militia in south Lebanon.
Israel is opposed to the continuation of the United Nations interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon or its replacement by a multinational force. The UNIFIL mandate expires in two weeks and is subject to renewal by the UN Security Council.