Kimche Says Beirut Regime Must Approach Israel on Withdrawal; Israel Will Not Make First Move

Israel will not approach the Lebanese government for any deal aimed at the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Force from south Lebanon. But it will consider any proposal offered by the Beirut regime, David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry said today.

Speaking on the second anniversary of the start of “Operation Peace for Galilee”, Kimche said Israel will follow a “pragmatic” course for the time being and will seek security arrangements in south Lebanon in cooperation with local elements, not the Lebanese government.

“We will not run after them, neither do we intend to repeat the process of Khalde and Kiryat Shemona,” Kimche said. He was referring to the long drawn out negotiations in those towns that led ultimately to the May 17, 1983 withdrawal and security agreement between Israel and Lebanon — an agreement repudiated this year by the government of President Amin Gemayel.

Nevertheless, Kimche said, if the government of Lebanon offers Israel proposals that would make feasible the withdrawal of the IDF from south Lebanon, “we shall be pragmatic and consider them.”

According to Kimche, Syria is anxious for an Israeli pull-out of Lebanon and would be likely to ignore negotiations between Jerusalem and Beirut as it had a year ago. Gemayel’s repudiation of the May 17, 1983 pact was attributed to intense pressure from Syria.

Kimche repeated that no formal request has been received from the Lebanese government to shut down the liaison office Israel maintains in a northern suburb of Beirut. However, he believes such a request is “imminent.”

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