JERUSALEM (May. 22)
The Cabinet formally ratified the Israel-Lebanon agreement today. An exchange of “instruments of ratification ” is expected to take place later this week, whereupon the agreement will formally come into effect.
One action specified in the agreement as required immediately upon its coming into effect is the creation of the “joint liaison committee” comprising Israeli and Lebanese officials with U.S. participation.
A great deal of the substance of the agreement, however, is contingent for its implementation upon Syrian compliance with the scheme for the withdrawal of all external forces from Lebanon. The prospect of such compliance being obtained imminently does not seem favorable — despite the broadly positive response that the Israel-Lebanon agreement has engendered in most of the Arab world.
U.S. special envoy Philip Habib met early this morning here with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir to brief him on his weekend talks in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Habib then left for Beirut. There was no indication, however, of whether or when Habib would be able to go to Damascus. Last week Syria let it be known that it would not welcome the American envoy.
SYRIA SEEMS READY TO RECEIVE SHULTZ
In a weekend interview with Radio Monte Carlo, Syrian Foreign Minister Abdel Halim Khaddam said Syria would only be prepared to negotiate with the U.S. and Lebanon if the Israel-Lebanon agreement were “reopened. ” In Beirut, government officials rejected this out of hand.
Some observers believe they detect a Syrian readiness to receive Secretary of State George Shultz (rather than Habib whom the Syrian media accused of being pro-Israeli). For the moment, however, there is no sign from Washington that Shultz would embark on another personal mediation mission at this time.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials have warmly welcomed the Reagan Administration’s announcement releasing the stalled F-16 warplanes, which were embargoed following the Lebanon invasion. The officials said the U.S. decision should be read as a “signal” both to the Syrians and to their Soviet patrons. (See related story from Washington.)