TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
The delegations of Israel, Lebanon and the U.S. resumed their negotiations at Netanya today after a 10-day hiatus during which the Israeli and Lebanese foreign ministers visited Washington for separate meetings with Secretary of State George Shultz.
The talks are aimed at an agreement for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, the security of Israel’s northern border and future relations between Israel and Lebanon. New American proposals, dealing mainly with the security issues, were discussed by the Cabinet in Jerusalem yesterday and reportedly accepted as a basis for further negotiations.
SOME PROGRESS REPORTED
According to sources at today’s meeting in Netanya, progress was made on mutual relations but there was less movement on security matters. The head of the Lebanese delegation, Antoine Fatale, said today that Lebanon recognized Israel’s emphasis on its security requirements.
Avi Pazner, spokesman for the Israeli delegation, told reporters that whatever the importance of Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s talks with Shultz last week, “it was in the direct talks such as those being held in Netanya and Khalde (Lebanon) that an agreement will ultimately be signed.” Today’s session at Netanya concentrated on the free passage of goods and people across the Israel-Lebanese border.
The delegations divided into various subcommittees to discuss security problems and to put into draft text form certain agreements in principle reached at earlier sessions. The negotiations will be resumed at Netanya next Friday.
TENSION CONTINUES BETWEEN U.S., ISRAELI TROOPS
Meanwhile, relations between Israeli and American forces in the Beirut area continued to sour Col. James Mead, commander of the 1,200 U.S. marines in Lebanon accused Israel army units of endangering civilians and marines by what he charged was indiscriminate gunfire resulting from a “gross lack” of discipline on the part of Israeli soldiers.
Mead made his charges in an interview with the Associated Press in Beirut. The Israeli military commander, asked to comment, said that “Lately the marines are publishing data that have no basis.”
He may have been referring to the letter sent by Marine Corps Commandant, Gen. Robert Barrow, to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, charging that Israeli troops were deliberately endangering the lives of American military personnel in Lebanon for “political reasons.” The letter was made public in the U.S. last Thursday.
Mead’s complaint referred to the Israeli practice of firing blindly into underbrush and other areas of concealment as a preventive measure against possible ambush of Israeli forces using highways in the Beirut area. According to Mead, such measures are ineffective against ambushers but endanger military personnel and civilians.