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Weizman Urges Government to Stop Linking Israeli Withdrawal from Lebanon with a Syrian Troop Pullbac

Former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman has urged the governement to “climb down off the withered limb of its policy in Lebanon and stop insisting on linking an Israeli withdrawal with a Syrian pullback of troops.”

Weizman spoke yesterday at the first press conference of his new party, Yahad, which he will head in the July 23 Knesset elections. He said Israel should adopt a more realistic policy in Lebanon, recognizing Syria’s permanent interests there. To judge from past, positive experiences with Damascus, an agreement, even an unwritten one, could be reached, he said.

He added that he would not reject proposals to establish an international force between Israeli and Syrian lines in Lebanon. He did not think Israel should attempt to shape Lebanon’s internal regime.

Weizman has yet to disclose the names of the candidates who will join him on the Yahad election list. But he said his new party will place as much emphasis on economic matters as on defense because without a strong economy the country would be weak and divided.

He said he hoped Yahad will win enough votes to replace the Agudat Israel party as the balancing force between Labor and Likud in any future Cabinet.