JERUSALEM (May. 15)
Israel and Lebanon will sign their agreement this Tuesday for the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon and related security and bilateral matters. This was confidently expected here today after the Lebanese Cabinet unanimously endorsed the accord in Beirut last Friday despite severe pressure from Syria to reject it.
The Israeli and Lebanese negotiating teams held their final meeting in Netanya today after completing line-by-line scrutiny of the text in its four language versions — Hebrew, Arabic, English and French.
The meticulous examination of the text began last Friday to make sure there were absolutely no misunderstandings between the parties and that the meanings were the same in each language.
The agreement is expected to be ratified tomorrow by the Lebanese Parliament and the Knesset. Israel Radio reported today that the formal signing Tuesday, on the eve of Shavuot, will take place in two separate ceremonies, first in the Lebanese town of Khalde just south of Beirut and then in Netanya.
The signatories will be the chiefs of the two negotiating teams, David Kimche, Director General of the Israeli Foreign Ministry who headed the Israeli delegation during the more than four months of negotiations, and Antoine Fatale, head of the Lebanese delegation. The two men will travel from Khalde to Netanya by helicopter, Israel Radio reported.
LEBANESE GOVERNMENT PRAISED
Government sources here praised the government of Lebanese President Amin Gemayel for steadfastly standing up to Syrian pressure. They expressed hope that Lebanon’s resolve would withstand continuing Syrian efforts to torpedo the agreement when it is placed before Parliament in Beirut. Only a simple majority is required for approval in the Lebanese chamber. Knesset endorsement is also expected, though not required by law to formalize the pact.
Damascus has denounced the agreement, worked out by U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, in the harshest terms. Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam declared Friday, “We have rejected it in form and substance. ” Later in the day. President Hafez Assad of Syria said Syria “does not agree at all” with the accord but he did not use the word “reject, “
The Israeli-Lebanese agreement cannot become operative unless Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization agree to pull their forces out of Lebanon simultaneously with an Israeli withdrawal.
After the Lebanese Cabinet approved the agreement Friday it set up a special team, headed by Premier Shafik Al-Wazzan to negotiate with the Syrians for the pull-out of the their forces. If the Syrians withdraw, the PLO would have no choice but to do the same as its forces in Lebanon are protected by the Syrian army.
(President Reagan said at Camp David Friday that he hoped Syria would withdraw from Lebanon despite its negative reaction to the agreement. Asked by reporters if he thought the Syrians would now change their mind, Reagan replied, “I am going to continue to hope they will.” White House deputy press secretary Larry Speakes said later that the U.S. would continue to work through various channels to persuade the Syrian government to cooperate.
(But the State Department made it clear on Friday that there are no plans now for a high visibility American role with respect to Syria’s moves. The Department’s deputy spokesman, Alan Romberg, told reporters, “There is an agreement between Lebanon and Israel that would bring about a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces. The issue now rests with Syria and the PLO to reach agreement with Lebanon to get their forces out. ” He noted that U.S. special envoy Philip Habib was in Beirut and could possibly go to Damascus.)
ISRAEL IS TAKING PRECAUTIONS
Knowledgeable circles in Israel indicated today that despite Syria’s intense pressure against the agreement and war talk from Damascus, they do not believe there will be war between Israel and Syria. Nevertheless, Israel is taking precautions. A long period of heightened tension is expected as the backdrop against which the diplomatic process will operate and hopefully culminate in the eventual withdrawal of the Syrian army from Lebanon.
Israel Radio cited high sources as expecting armed incidents on both sides of the Lebanese front and possibly on the Golan Heights in the weeks ahead, but no full scale war with Syria.