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Sharon: Peace Between Israel and Lebanon is Much Closer

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Defense Minister Ariel Sharon of Israel told Israel Bond leaders here that “peace between Israel and Lebanon is much closer now than when we started our peace agreement with Egypt in 1977.” He asserted that Lebanon “may be the second Arab country to sign a peace agreement with Israel” but cautioned that “we must see more support by the United States to arrive at peace with Lebanon.”

Sharon made his remarks at a dinner last week launching the Israel Band Organization’s 1983 campaign in the Greater New York area. The dinner, at the Essex House, which also honored eight noted American Jewish leaders, produced more than $14.5 million in the sale of Israel Bond securities. The event was held under the auspices of the Society of Canal Founders ($100,000 or more purchasers) and the Israel Prime Minister’s Club ($25,000 or more investors).

SAYS TALKS ARE GOING ON

The Defense Minister told the audience, “We believe in and we must have direct contact with the Lebanese leaders. Some of these meetings are open, some are secret, but talks are going on.” He disclosed that Israel’s border with Lebanon is open and that hundreds of Lebanese–businessmen, writers, poets, journalists and doctors — are crossing into Israel every day. “We believe normalization must be part of the security arrangement,” Sharon said.

He warned that it would be a mistake to postpone a settlement with Lebanon in order to arrive at an over-all agreement in the Mideast but emphasized that the destruction of the PLO gives Israel an opportunity to discuss peace with the Palestinian inhabitants of Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

The guests of honor were Nathan Ancell, Joseph Gruss, Samuel Hausman, Hermann Merkin, Ira Miller, David Minkin, Irving Rosenbaum and Louis Rousso. Sharon presented them with the Bond Organization’s premiere Israel 35th Anniversary Award in recognition of their contributions to the creation and development of Israel.

Jack Weiler, Israel Bond national treasurer and honorary chairman of the Greater New York campaign, who served as dinner chairman, reported that the Bond campaign throughout the free world was $70 million ahead of last year and that total sales since 1951 will surpass $6 billion by the end of the year.

While Sharon was in New York last week, he also met with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations where he said that Israel is “close to” a security arrangement with Lebanon and outlined the terms of security arrangements. (See December 10 Bulletin.)

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