JERUSALEM (Jan. 5)
The formulation of an agenda item on normalization of relations continues to be the main obstacle delaying an agreement on an agenda in the talks between Israel and Lebanon. A 90-minute meeting today in Jerusalem between the American mediator, Morris Draper, and Israel’s Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir apparently failed to produce a breakthrough on this issue.
(It was reported today in Washington that special envoy Philip Habib was summoned to the capital from a Florida vacation for policy-making meetings as the Reagan Administration prepared a new drive to break the stalemate in the Israeli-Lebanese talks. State Department sources said it is likely that Habib will return to the Middle East within a few days in an effort to break the deadlock.)
Israeli sources said Draper, who is Habib’s deputy, had brought “new ideas” on the issue that had been discussed between himself and the Lebanese leadership. But Israel Radio reported that Shamir had “rejected” the ideas and had insisted that the concept of normalization be clearly spelled out in the agenda.
After the meeting with Draper, Shamir and his Director-General, David Kimche, who heads Israel’s delegation to the talks with the Lebanese, met with Premier Menachem Begin and other top aides for a briefing session prior to the next round of the talks tomorrow at Kiryat Shmona.
UPBEAT REMARKS BY DRAPER
Draper himself sounded upbeat in brief remarks to reporters after his meetings with Shamir and Kimche at the Foreign Ministry. The talk had been “good” he said. “The negotiations are going to go forward … We have high hopes for a successful conclusion as soon as possible.”
Draper’s effort was set against the backdrop of some tough public rhetoric from Shamir the evening before. In a speech to Bnei Akiva youth movement leaders from around the world, the Foreign Minister charged that certain Moslem leaders in Lebanon who were opposed to peaceful relations with Israel did not really represent the great majority of the Lebanese people but were “agents of foreign interests
These Moslem leaders, whom Shamir did not name, were “the instruments of pressure” in the hands of the Arab states — Syria, Saudi Arabia, even Egypt, too” — which were urging Lebanon not to conclude a normalization accord with Israel.
“The world is silent and no one protests” against this pressure upon Lebanon, Shamir noted. Instead, Israel is accused, in a Beirut newspaper, of seeking to pressure Lebanon into peaceful relations with her, he said. In fact, the foreign Minister said, such peaceful relations were a vital common interest shared by Israel and Lebanon.
Throughout its history, and especially since 1948, Lebanon had been a prey to outside pressures from Syria and Saudi Arabia. Its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict had been forced upon it against the will of its people, Shamir noted. Similarly, in 1969 the “Cairo agreements” by which Lebanon allowed the PLO to operate from its territory had been forced upon it “by Nasser and his allies,” he said.
Israel had “freed Lebanon from these pressures. The great majority of the Lebanese people want peaceful relations with Israel. That includes a great many of the Moslems in Lebanon. They want Lebanon out of the framework of the Israel-Arab conflict,” Shamir said.