JERUSALEM (Apr. 7)
Israel will know within two weeks whether an agreement with Lebanon is at hand, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir reportedly told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee today.
He said the pace of the tripartite talks between Israel, Lebanon and the U.S. has been accelerated to four meetings a week. The negotiating teams had been meeting on the average of twice weekly for the past four months, alternating between sites in Lebanon and in Israel, Shamir confirmed to the Knesset members that the outstanding unresolved issue is the future status of Israel’s ally in Lebanon, Maj. Saad Haddad.
Other Israeli officials seemed to share Shamir’s view that an agreement could be imminent. Avi Pazner, spokesman for the Israeli delegation, said after today’s round of talks in Kiryat Shemona, that the sin qua non for Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Lebanon was a Syrian commitment to pull out its forces at the same time.
Pazner said the head of the Israeli delegation, David Kimche, made that point forcefully today and urged the Lebanese to convey it unequivocally to Syria.
ISRAEL’S VIEW OF GROMYKO’S REMARKS
Shamir reportedly gave the Knesset committee his analysis of Andrei Gromyko’s references to the Lebanese situation at a press conference in Moscow, Gromyko, formerly the Soviet Foreign Minister, was recently promoted to First Deputy Prime Minister of the USSR. Shamir noted that he had referred to the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon and implicitly criticized extremist Arab governments that refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Israeli officials have privately welcomed Gromyko’s remarks. But they noted that the Soviet statesman was apparently making it clear that the Soviet Union must be taken into account in a negotiated withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon. By echoing the American formulation, Gromyko was establishing common ground between the two superpowers on the Lebanon negotiations, the Israeli officials suggested.