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IDF Document Urges Early Withdrawal of Israeli Troops from Lebanon Even if Syrian Troops Remain Ther

A secret position paper urging the early withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from Lebanon regardless of a continued Syrian presence was the product of free-wheeling discussions and wide-ranging option consideration allowed by Defense Minister Moshe Arens to his staff and did not become official government policy, defense sources said last night.

Existence of the document, prepared by an IDF military planner, was first disclosed last November. It was read to the Knesset Tuesday by opposition MK Shulamit Aloni of the Civil Rights Movement, part of the Labor Alignment. Aloni was sharply criticized for making it public.

The document, undated, called for a reappraisal of Israel’s policy toward Syria and viewed the presence of Syrian forces in Lebanon as a “lesser evil” than other possibilities. The author of the document contended that Israel could not expel the Syrians by political measures and a military approach was undesirable.

The present situation, according to the document was leading to the de facto partition of Lebanon and while this might prevent terrorist attacks on northern Israel, it would increase the potential for friction with Syria and for a Lebanese civilian uprising again against the IDF. The author, therefore, recommended that the IDF be withdrawn from south Lebanon as soon as provisions are made to prevent attacks across the border and to deny Syria any strategic advantage.

MK Geula Cohen of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya Party attacked Aloni for exploiting her Knesset immunity to disclose privileged information. She said it could set a dangerous precedent. Aloni replied that the document was in no way secret as it had been referred to by the press a month ago without raising objections from the military censor. Furthermore, she said, it was the duty of any MK to speak out if he or she felt a policy pursued by the government was harmful to the country.

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