TEL AVIV (Aug. 30)
Israel yielded today to the urgings of the Reagan Administration and agreed to again postpone the start of troop redeployment to the Awali River in south Lebanon “for a short time.”
The request from President Reagan was brought to Premier Menachem Begin in Jerusalem by Robert McFarlane, the President’s special envoy, who came to Israel this morning from Beirut after talks with government officials in Paris, London and Rome on strengthening the multinational force (MNF) to enable the Lebanese army to take control of the Shouf moun- tain area as Israeli forces withdrew. The length of time of the new delay was not disclosed but informed sources said it appeared to be not more than one or two days. The redeployment had been scheduled to begin this week and to be completed by Rosh Hashanah eve next Wednesday.
Most of the removal work has been completed and the planned redeployment completion date of September 7 could still be met, though this was not considered a certainty.
The decision for even a brief extension of the start of withdrawal was not an easy one for the Begin government, beset as it is with the problems stemming from Begin’s final decision to resign.
Each day the IDF units remain in forward positions with reduced forces, living under extreme field conditions, lacking kitchen facilities or housing in the field, they are subject to increased dangers of terrorist attacks.
Begin’s meeting with McFarlane took place only moments before his dramatic meeting with his coalition partners at which, after listening to renewed efforts to persuade him to cancel his resignation plan, Begin agreed only to postpone briefly the mandatory letter of resignation he must present to President Chaim Herzog.
The Begin-McFarlane meeting was attended by Defense Minister Moshe Arens, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Chief of Staff Moshe Levy.