JERUSALEM (Jul. 25)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens are expected to face heavy American pressure to halt Israeli preparations for the redeployment of its forces in Lebanon when they meet with President Reagan and other top Administration officials in Washington.
This is the general appraisal by leading analysts and some government officials following Reagan’s invitation yesterday to the two senior ministers to come to Washington. The two are scheduled to leave tonight and remain in Washington for several days. According to Israel Radio reports, some ministers at yesterday’s Cabinet session expressed concern that Shamir and Arens would come under pressure in Washington.
NO CHANGE IN ISRAEL’S POSITION
But Cabinet Secretary Dan Meridor told reporters after the Cabinet meeting, “There is a common goal of Lebanon, the United States and Israel to bring out all the foreign forces, and we hope that this visit will help that goal.” Asked whether Shamir’s and Arens’ trip to Washington would have any effect on the redeployment plans, Meridor said: “The trip will have an effect on what happens in Lebanon, but we still intend to go on with our decision to redeploy our forces.”
According to political circles in Jerusalem, the Reagan Administration wants Israel to halt its redeployment until the fate of the government of President Amin Gemayel becomes clear. The circles say that the U.S. believes that the Gemayel government faces a real danger of total collapse and that the purpose of the Syrian-led military and political campaigns against the Lebanese government is to hasten its demise. According to this assessment, an Israeli withdrawal to new lines at this stage might make this development inevitable.
Thus, Israel faces the paradox of wanting to withdraw from its present position by redeploying its forces — despite objections by the U.S., the Lebanese government, the Phalangists and the Druze in the Shouf mountains.