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Eban: Israel Failed to Achieve Any of Its Objectives in Lebanon

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Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban said here that Israel failed to achieve any of the objectives of its war in Lebanon. But he forcefully denied that Israel can be blamed for the bitter fighting between warring factions in that country.

Eban, a prominent Labor member of the Knesset, spoke to an audience of 1,500 at the Beth El Synagogues last Saturday night. For Israel, he said, the war in Lebanon should have been a three-day affair, limited to driving the PLO terrorists to a distance “from which no Israeli man, woman, child or home would be in range” of their rockets and artillery.

But the objectives of the war, he explained, became a stable Lebanon under the leadership of the Christian Phalangists, that would make peace with Israel, the expulsion of Syrian forces, the weakening of Soviet influence and the removal of Palestinian terrorists from Israel’s borders.

‘None of these objectives were achieved,” the Israeli diplomat said, “and it is questionable whether they were achievable at all. Syria now strides across the Lebanese arena as the great victor, where as Israel, whose aims won a speedy and total victory, is now considering how to eliminate its presence from the very arena of its victory.”

ISRAEL CAN’T BE BLAMED FOR THE FIGHTING IN LEBANON

Eban insisted that “Israel can’t be blamed for the fighting in Lebanon. We made a serious effort before we left to bring about an agreement between the Druze and Phalangists. It is absolute nonsense to accuse us of having left behind a vacuum, Is the United States a vacuum?” he asked.

He said that to compare Lebanon to Vietnam is an “exaggeration.” In Eban’s opinion the situation is closer to that in northern Ireland where Protestants and Catholics have been battling each other for more than 100 years. “To ask us to solve hatreds in the Lebanese mountains is not a legitimate charge” Eban said, “The only difference of opinion in Israel is concerning the pace of withdrawal. The government wants the withdrawal to take place in two phases, while the opposition wants a swifter withdrawal in two months.”

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