TEL AVIV (Aug. 21)
Defense Minister Moshe Arens told an Israel Bond conference that the Lebanese government was not doing enough to arrange a settlement between the warring Druze and Christians in the Shouf mountains, or to coordinate with Israel over the redeployment of the Israel Defense Force from the Shouf area to the Awali River line in the south.
Arens, who visited the Beirut area last week, said that the feelings among the Lebanese people, as he experienced them, were that they “live in fear of their lives, are afraid of tomorrow, are suspicious and afraid of their neighbors or other ethnic groups, and see the dangers of a buildup of a possible new cycle of violence.”
The Defense Minister cautioned, “Too much time has passed, and not enough time is left. A political accord with the Druze must be reached. It requires intensive negotiations which must be begun this very moment, and carried out so that the accord can be accomplished before we leave.”
In addition, Arens continued, “it is essential that the Lebanese armed forces coordinate very closely with the IDF so that when we leave the area a vacuum will not be left behind, and that there can be a smooth transition with the Lebanese armed forces taking over our positions, rather than the Syrians or the PLO coming into the area in the wake of our withdrawal.”
However, Arens said, “In the light of the lack of activity which we sense from the government in Beirut in these two spheres, we cannot make our redeployment contingent on these objectives being met.”
At the conclusion of the nine-day 35th anniversary international Israel Bond conference last Thursday, attended by 500 Bond leaders, it was reported that Israel Bond receipts for 1983 have passed the $300 million mark. “Previously, years which followed Israel’s wars, as in 1968 and 1974, showed a drop in Bond results,” said conference chairman Rabbi Leon Kronish of Miami. “This cycle has not been repeated as world Jewry demonstrates its determination to continue to strengthen Israel’s economy.”