PARIS (Jun. 13)
Israeli Labor Party leader Shimon Peres said last night he would offer a definite timetable for the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Lebanon if he becomes Premier after the upcoming Knesset election.
The withdrawal “would take from three to six months” and could be a unilateral decision, Peres said in a debate on French television with his Likud opponent, Premier Yitzhak Shamir. He said his proposal has the approval of three former chiefs of staff and a former Minister of Defense.
Israel’s presence in Lebanon could be replaced by a system of advanced warning stations and a mobile and flexible force stationed in northern Israel, Peres maintained.
SHAMIR WANTS ARRANGEMENTS FIRST
But Shamir stressed that Israel would leave Lebanon only after it had reached a statisfactory agreement with the Lebanese government or the local authorities in south Lebanon. He said Israel was forced by circumstances and history into Lebanon. “We had no choice,” he said. “Chasing the PLO gang from our northern border was a historic must.”
Shamir and Peres did not meet face-to-face during the hour-long confrontation. Shamir was in his office in Jerusalem and Peres in the television studio. Both spoke in French. It was their first television debate for the July 23 elections.
The Premier avoided discussing in any detail the future of the West Bank. But, he stressed, that if Likud wins Israel will not annex Judaea and Samaria. “One does not annex what already belongs to one,” he said. He stressed that Likud would continue its settlement policy.
PERES: NO NEW SETTLEMENTS
Peres said a Labor government would stop creating new settlements in densely populated Arab areas, but would leave intact existing settlements.
Both condemned the Jewish terrorist organization recently uncovered in Israel. Shamir called it a “deviation” from Israeli policy and moral attitude.
The two carefully avoided elaborating an economic program to solve Israel’s three digit inflation economy.