JERUSALEM (Dec. 29)
Israel is now prepared to allow the return of 415 Moslem fundamentalists it deported to Lebanon two weeks ago, but only in exchange for a guarantee of “full tranquillity” in the administered territories.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made the offer Tuesday as Israel announced that 10 of the Palestinians deported to Lebanon in error would he allowed to return to the territories.
But nine of them still face trial and imprisonment for serious crimes, Rabin said. A 10th was an outright case of mistaken identity.
Israel is determined not to let the rest return, “unless and until there is a major change and the organizations undertake to desist from terror and violence for the duration of the peace negotiations,” Rabin told the ninth International Congress of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists.
The prime minister also lashed out at the Lebanese government for giving television crews access to the 415 fundamentalist deportees, while refusing to allow relief agencies to reach their encampment on a strip of land between Israeli and Lebanese army checkpoints in southern Lebanon.
He spoke after a United Nations envoy failed to persuade Lebanon to accept a proposed Israeli compromise on providing humanitarian aid to the deportees.
Meeting with U.N. Undersecretary-General James Jonah, Lebanese authorities rejected Israel’s offer to allow a one-time Red Cross humanitarian aid mission to get through to the deportees through Israel if Lebanon allowed subsequent aid to arrive through its own territory.
Rabin flayed the Beirut authorities for forcibly removing sick deportees from a local hospital. He said the Red Cross had approached him early Tuesday about three such cases.
“There may be a medical problem there,” but the deportees generally are in good health, the prime minister said. “We see them doing their exercises each morning. They do not lack food.”
Meanwhile, the nine deportees who face criminal proceedings when they return may wind up getting the worse end of the deal. While the expulsion orders are in effect for a maximum of two years, jail sentences in Israel could run much longer.
Among the 10 allowed to return is 16-year-old Bassam Souyouri of Hebron, whose family is demanding that those responsible for his deportation be punished.