Menu JTA Search

Arens Says Israel Wants to Coordinate Idf’s Redeployment with the Lebanese Government

Defense Minister Moshe Arens outlined a two-pronged approach to the redeployment of Israeli forces in south Lebanon. He said that Israel wants to coordinate the redeployment with the Lebanese government and that, in turn, the Lebanese would have to coordinate with the multinational force the control of the territory to be evacuated by the Israel Defense Force.

Arens, who returned home today from Washington where he and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir met with President Reagan and other top Administration and Congressional leaders last week, said the redeployment of Israeli forces does not depend on the Syrians. He said Israel wants U.S. and international pressure on Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, based on what he termed the “illegality of Syria’s presence” in Lebanon.

The Defense Minister indicated that he was satisfied with the talks he and Shamir held in Washington. He said Israel and the U.S. share identical objectives in Lebanon and are very close in their assessment of the situation in Lebanon.

MEETING WITH THE PRESIDENTS CONFERENCE

(Arens made a similar point at his meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in New York last Friday. He said the Reagan Administration and Israel had strengthened their “common resolve and common strategy” during his and Shamir’s talks in Washington. He said the talks were friendly consultations “between friends where we compared notes, assessed mutual objectives and worked out tactics that we could undertake together to help bring peace and stability to the Middle East.”

(One focus of discussion during the U.S.-Israel talks, Arens said, was the newly-established Syria-supported National Salvation Front in Lebanon created by Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Lebanese Druze community which has been at war with the Christian Phalangists, and former President Suleiman Franjieh, a Maronite Christian. Arens said that this Front, which has announced its intention to bring down the government of President Amin Gemayel, assassinated President-elect Bashir Gemayel, and bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

(The Israeli Defense Minister said that Washington and Jerusalem were working together to block the Front’s efforts, which he said were part of a joint Syrian-PLO attempt to “delegitimize” the Lebanese government.)

SAYS U.S. NOT OPPOSED TO LAVIE PRODUCTION

In his assessment of Shamir’s talks in Washington, Arens denied that Administration officials had sought to dissuade Israel from manufacturing the Lavie fighter jet. On the contrary, Arens said, the U.S. is already involved in the design and the production of major components of the Lavie and is therefore a “significant partner” in its production.

What Israel wanted, Arens said, was American financial allocations for the plane’s construction to be spent within Israel itself. According to reports in Jerusalem yesterday, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger told Arens and Shamir when he met with them in Washington that Israel’s production of the Lavie would hurt the American aircraft industry.

NEXT STORY