JERUSALEM (Jan. 19)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir emphatically ruled out a reported American suggestion that U.S. personnel could man early warning stations in the security zone in south Lebanon.
Israel did “not put forward the demand, the condition” that Israeli forces man these stations “in order to forego it,” Shamir said an a radio panel discussion today during a break in his lengthy talks with U.S. special Ambassador Philip Habib.
He thereby confirmed earlier remarks by unidentified official sources that the proposal, reportedly made by Habib, was unacceptable to Israel. Those sources had spoken in response to local press reports that the plan was agreeable to the Lebanese and might be to Israel.
Shamir insisted that the early warning stations would be a “temporary” part of the overall “close cooperation” between the Israel army and the Lebanese army on “security arrangements” in the south Lebanon zone. He said the duration of this agreement would have to be agreed to between Israel and Lebanon.
According to Shamir, the early warning stations could exist “until a peace treaty is concluded” with Lebanon. Another possibility he said, was an agreement with Lebanon “for a certain number of years.”
OUTLINES VIEW OF ‘CLOSE COOPERATION’
Shamir outlined what Israel envisaged as “close cooperation” with Lebanon. It would include “frequent meetings, intelligence contacts, constant watchfulness and coordination to in the event of something dangerous happening …. The warming stations are part of all that,” he said.
He added that when the time came that Lebanon was able to ensure border security by its own means, no such stations would be required and there would be no need for Americans to man such stations.
Shamir said Habib was seeking to reach a common ground with Israel in an effort to speed up negotiations. Because Lebanon is weak and under heavy Arab pressure, it tended to rely an the U.S. and therefore it was “natural” for the U.S. to play a key role in the negotiations, Shamir said.
He said his talks with Habib this week covered essentially the same issues as the Israel-Lebanese-U.S. negotiating teams were covering at their twice issues were security arrangements, mutual relations and arrangements for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon in the framework of the withdrawal of all foreign forces, Shamir said.
Sources in Premier Menachem Begin’s office have dismissed as “not serious” reports that Habib was pressing for the early withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. The sources claimed it was nonsense to consider a timetable at this point. In Israel’s view, withdrawal must be the last stage of any agreement reached.
Shamir stressed today that Israel wanted to withdraw from Lebanon but insisted that withdrawal would take place only after agreements have been reached on security and mutual relations.
Israeli negotiators met yesterday with Habib and his deputy, special envoy Morris Draper. According to Israeli sources, agreement was reached that any future arrangement between Israel and Lebanon would state explicitly that the new agreement cancels all previous agreements. This is in line with Israel’s contention that the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Lebanon is null and void. The Lebanese government contends it is still in force.
The army, meanwhile, denied press reports in Beirut that Israeli soldiers had clashed recently with U.S. marines in the Beirut area. The marines are part of the multinational force in Beirut which includes contingents from Italy and France.