Chairman of Powerful Knesset Unit Says Partition of Lebanon is Unavoidable and Necessary

Eliahu Ben-Elissar, chairman of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, contended today that the partition of Lebanon was both unavoidable and necessary.

Ben-Elissar made his remarks at a session of the committee where Premier Yitzhak Shamir voiced strong objections to the U.S. plan to arm a Jordanian task force which would be part of the American rapid deployment force poised to protect the Persian Gulf.

Shamir, stressing that Israel’s opposition to the American plan was in accordance with its longstanding policy against arming any Arab state that maintains a status of belligerency with Israel, denied reports that Israel had negotiated with the U.S. for possible compensation if it withdrew its objections.

DENIES THREAT OF INDEFINITE OCCUPATION

Shamir also denied reports that he had threatened Lebanon with indefinite Israeli occupation if it abrogated the withdrawal and security agreement the two countries signed last May 17.

Ben-Elissar said that both Syria and Israel have interests in Lebanon and therefore that country should be divided, cruel as it would be. He maintained that any other solution would be detrimental to Israel. Ben-Elissar, who was Israel’s first Ambassador to Egypt and a protege of former Premier Menachem Begin, is one of the most influential of the younger members of Herut. He expressed his views on Lebanon as that country’s warring factions were about to open a meeting in Geneva aimed at national reconciliation. (See separate story.)

Geula Cohen, of the Tehiya party, claimed the U.S. arming of Jordan would lead to war against Israel. “If such a war breaks out, we shall fight back the Jordanian army in a war of defense to the Gilead mountains and Amman,” she said. Yossi Sarid, a Labor Alignment dove, promptly accused Cohen of calling for Israel’s occupation of Jordan.

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