TEL AVIV (Feb. 7)
Premier Shimon Peres said yesterday that the Israel Defense Force will not intervene in the internal affairs of Lebanon after it withdraws behind the international border. But should any threat to Israel’s security arise in Lebanon, the IDF would re-enter that country, do what has to be done and leave, he said.
Peres spoke to reporters at an IDF position at Buksata, overlooking the south Lebanon port of Sidon and the Awali River. He visited there to watch the progress of the IDF withdrawal from that region, the first stage of its three-stage pull-out from south Lebanon. The first stage is progressing rapidly and all Israeli troops and equipment are expected to be gone from the Sidon-Awali River area by February 18.
Once Israel is out of Lebanon “we do not intend to play any part in the internal politics of Lebanon,” Peres said. As to the danger of new bloodshed between rival factions after the IDF leaves, Peres said” I don’t want to engage in prophecies. I believe nobody really knows … what will happen” in Lebanon. “I would like to see the Lebanese reach a solution among their different parties,”Peres said.
‘WE DO NOT WANT LEBANESE SOIL’
But, he added, “It is their business if they choose to save the situation or destroy it. We do not intend to stay in Lebanon and we are now leaving. We do not want Lebanese soil. “He noted that in the past the IDF has been able to protect Galilee from within Israel’s borders and it will be able to do so again. Should a danger arise, however, “we would act. We would re-enter Lebanon and then return home,” Peres said.
Meanwhile, Israel was informed yesterday that the Lebanese government refuses to cooperate in any way with the withdrawal of the IDF. Reports from Beirut indicated at the same time that the IDF faces an escalation of attacks from hostile Moslem elements as its three-state withdrawal begins. Nabih Berri, leaders of Lebanon’s Shiite Moslems and Minister of State for south Lebanon, was reported as warning the IDF, “You’ll face resistance like you’ve never faced before.” He said his ministry will be renamed “Ministry of Resistance” and would pay Shiite guerrillas to harass the IDF.