TEL AVIV (Apr. 16)
Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin has outlined a plan by which, he says, the Israel Defense Force could be withdrawn completely from Lebanon in 3-6 months. He was sharply critical of the government for “wasting” a year negotiating its pact with the government of President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon when it should have concentrated on building up the south Lebanon army.
According to Rabin, the May 17, 1983, withdrawal and security agreement which the Gemayel government has since repudiated was “a piece of paper lacking in any practical meaning from its inception.”
In a weekend radio interview, Rabin, a former Chief of Staff and a member of the Labor Party leadership in the upcoming election campaign, said the IDF could be replaced by a strengthened south Lebanon army which would be responsible for the security of Israel’s northern borders.
He proposed that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) replace the IDF in the Lebanese port city of Sidon and serve as a buffer between Israel and Syria. The IDF should be used to “win wars quickly, not to try to impose political solutions,” Rabin declared, an apparent criticism of the war aims of the Likud government when Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982. Instead of building up the south Lebanon army, the government wasted a year on a “practically meaningless pact with Beirut … We lost a full year because the government policy was locked into the agreement … If we had used the year to encourage the residents of south Lebanon to cooperate with us, we would be in a far better position today.”