Israel to Decide in Next Few Weeks on IDF Withdrawal from Lebanon Once Begun, Withdrawal Would Take

Israel will decide in the next few weeks on the withdrawal of its forces from Lebanon, Premier Shimon Peres said in an interview published today. He said the withdrawal process itself, once begun, would take six to nine months.

Peres told The Jerusalem Post it was incorrect to speak of negotiations between Israel and Syria. The two countries have reached tacit understandings in the past when the Syrians perceived it to be in their interest and the same could be the case now with respect to south Lebanon, Peres said.

He noted that Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin is engaged in a broad review of Israel’s deployment in Lebanon, parallel to ongoing diplomatic efforts. Richard Murphy, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs has returned to Washington following a week of what he called “exploratory talks” in the region.

Murphy conferred with Israeli leaders here last week after meetings with President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon in Beirut and Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus. He may return to the Middle East shortly to continue his diplomatic mission, sources here said.

JORDANIAN-EGYPTIAN TIES STIR NEW DIPLOMATIC ACTIVITY

Expectations of new activity on the diplomatic front have been heightened by Jordan’s re-establishment of full diplomatic ties with Egypt, broken when Egypt and Israel signed their peace treaty in 1979. The Jordanian move is believed to have been discussed at several unpublicized meetings between Peres and the Egyptian Charge d’Affaires, Mohammed Bassiouni.

Israel has maintained a low profile on the matter but Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, now attending the United Nations General Assembly session in New York, hailed it in a Kol Israel Radio broadcast as a victory for Camp David.

Government sources on the Labor side of the unity coalition are privately linking Hussein’s decision to the fact that Israel now has a regime headed by Peres. Those sources stress Peres’ reiteration of his desire to open a dialogue with Jordan and his insistence that the government’s policy guidelines allow for freeranging negotiations, not necessarily limited to the Camp David terms.

POSSIBLE SOURCES OF LABOR-LIKUD CONFLICT

That might prove a major source of conflict between the Labor and Likud components of the unity government, should Jordan indicate an interest in opening peace talks with Israel. Shamir has avoided a head on clash so far but has made it clear that he would oppose any negotiations with Jordan on a basis other than Camp David.

In an interview over the weekend, the Likud leader said that if differences arose in the future between himself and Peres they would not be because of “lack of chemistry” but a result of substantive policy disputes.

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