JERUSALEM (Nov. 2)
U.S. special envoy Morris Draper continued his talks with Israeli leaders today in an attempt to reach agreement on the framework of proposed negotiations for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and security arrangements in south Lebanon.
Draper met with Premier Menachem Begin, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon last night. He had another session with Shamir today. Afterwards he told reporters that he thought “we are making progress in overcoming the obstacles to talks aimed at bringing about the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon. That is the common objective of the U.S., Lebanon and Israel.”
But there were indications that the Israeli and American positions do not coincide and there has been unconcealed disappointment in circles here with Draper’s stand on specific demands being made by Israel.
The American envoy, who is President Reagan’s special Ambassador for the negotiations on Lebanon, has continued to urge the Israelis not to make matters difficult for President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon. Some Israeli sources have suggested that Draper seems to be speaking for Gemayel rather than for the U.S.
ISRAEL’S VIEW OF THE ISSUES
It has become evident in recent weeks that the newly elected Lebanese President is trying to distance himself from Israel in order to improve his relations with the other Arab countries and with Lebanon’s Moslem majority.
The Israelis strongly oppose the Lebanese position that negotiations with Israel should be conducted at the liaison officers level comprising military commissions, with the U.S. acting as mediator. Israel insists on direct talks by a joint political-military commission.
Israel demands further that the end of belligerency between the two countries must be the first topic on the agenda. The Israelis intend to raise other political issues of principle which they insist must be discussed at a senior political level, not between military officers.
Those issues would include the ways and mean to ensure the total withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and security arrangements to prevent them from ever returning. Israel would leave details of security arrangements in south Lebanon to the end of the negotiating process.
LEBANESE P.M. BLASTS ISRAEL
In Lebanon, meanwhile, opposition appears to be growing to Israel’s continued presence in the country. Prime Minister Shafia al-Wazzan accused the Israelis yesterday of “paralyzing government functions” in the areas of Lebanon its troops occupy. He also threatened to strip the citizenship of Lebanese officials and civilians in cases of “collaboration with Israel.”
According to reports from Beirut, al-Wazzan said the Israeli occupying force was trying “to subvert the local administration and impose normalization by interfering in public affairs.” He warned that “People who deal with Israel and thus harm the country could lose their nationality.”
Israelis are also upset with Gemayel who returned to Beirut last night from Morocco where he discussed the possibility of enlarging the Multinational Force in Lebanon to include Moroccan units. The MNF is presently composed of Italian and French troops and 1,200 U.S. marines.
Israeli sources promptly rejected the idea of including Moroccans because Morocco is officially in a state of belligerency with Israel. But they seemed willing to consider the deployment of Egyptian units as part of the MNF. (See related story from Washington.)