JERUSALEM (Feb. 26)
The Cabinet was apparently in agreement today that now is not the time for a redeployment of the Israel Defense Force in south Lebanon.
A communique released after today’s session said “no decisions” were made on the issue which has been under debate for the past two weeks. This was taken to mean that the IDF will remain on its present lines along the Awali River for the time being. Cabinet sources said armored patrols would continue their probes north of the line.
Differences among the ministers over south Lebanon had been reported in the media before today’s regular weekly Cabinet meeting. A group of five or six, led by Deputy Premier David Levy, was reported to favor an IDF pull back to lines closer to the Israeli border and to oppose beefed up patrols into areas the IDF evacuated months ago. The stated purpose of the patrols was to prevent the reinfiltration of Palestinian terrorists into those areas.
There were no indications today whether the Levy group continued to press its views. Cabinet sources said no vote was taken but intimated that there was broad agreement that now is not an opportune moment for a decision to redeploy the IDF.
According to political observers. Premier Yitzhak Shamir prefers to wait until the situation in Lebanon is clearer before Israel announces any unilateral move. It was also reported by reliable sources that the U.S. would prefer Israel not to pull its forces back to a more southerly line at this time. The last of the U.S. marines in Beirut embarked on ships of the Sixth Fleet today.