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Future of Unifil Debated

The U.S. and Lebanon are working on a plan to define the responsibilities of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) once all foreign forces are withdrawn from Lebanon, it was learned here today.

Some of the countries which have supplied contingents to UNIFIL are apparently willing to extend its mandate for only three months instead of the usual six month extension as heretofore. The mandate expires on July 19 and the Dutch government has already announced that it will withdraw its battalion from UNIFIL three months later, on October 19.

The reason appears to be the undefined nature of UNIFIL’s functions since Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982. The Dutch Foreign Minister, Hans Van der Broek, due on a visit here this afternoon, is expected to discuss the matter with Israeli officials.

The Israelis agree that UNIFIL has no real function in south Lebanon any longer. But there is a possibility that more peacekeeping troops will be needed in Lebanon in a different framework and Israeli officials are expected to raise that matter with Van der Broek.

DUTCH-ISRAELI RELATIONS

The Israelis and the Dutch are also far apart on the nature and status of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir is expected to stress to his counterpart from Holland that the revolt within PLO ranks against Yasir Arafat only proves that it is “a gang of terrorists on the way out.” Van der Broek is on record as stating that the PLO still represents the Palestinian people.

The Israelis are anxious that Van der Broek’s visit runs smoothly. They still have hopes that Holland will take exception to the European Economic Community’s (EEC) Venice declaration of June, 1980 which, among other things, would give the PLO a role in future Mideast peace negotiations.

Israel would also like Dutch support for closer ties with the EEC which appear jeopardized by the impending entry of Spain and Portugal into the European Common Market. Officials here have noted that relations with The Netherlands have improved since Israel and Lebanon signed their withdrawal agreement last May 17. But they have still not returned to the warmth of the past.

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