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Status of Israel-lebanon Talks

March 23, 1983
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Despite a wave of optimism generated by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s aides on his return from Washington last week, the talks with Lebanon have resumed without signs that an successful conclusion is imminent. After a session in Netanya yesterday, Israeli sources spoke of a “great deal of work” still to be done and of still-unresolved issues of dispute.

Among these are the status of Maj. Saad Haddad and his militia force in south Lebanon after the Israel Defense Force withdraws, and what, if any, role is to be played by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) or the multinational force in the area.

The Cabinet and smaller ministerial panels discussed at length the American proposals Shamir had heard from Secretary of State George Shultz in Washington–and informed sources spoke of a softening in Israel’s stand, both on security arrangements and on mutual relations with Lebanon.

It is apparent that Israel no longer insists on IDF-manned military posts inside Lebanon for a length of time following the withdrawal. Furthermore, according to informed sources, Israel is now more flexible regarding the formal nature of its normalization accord with Lebanon. Israel would probably accept a less far-reach- ing accord than it had earlier hoped for — provided there was substantial trade and tourism in practice across the border.


The focus of the American proposals, it is understood, is cooperation after the withdrawal between the IDF and the Lebanese army. This cooperation, at the command level and also in the field, would be designed to ensure security in the border area and prevent any return of the PLO.

But the Lebanese, with U.S. support, have been adamant in rejecting IDF-manned posts on their soil. They are also balking at Israel’s insistence that Haddad be integrated, at the head of his militia force, into the Lebanese army brigade that would be deployed in the south.

Some reports say the Beirut government would like to send Haddad abroad as an ambassador or military attache, and disband the framework of his IDF-backed militia force.

A news dispatch from Beirut yesterday cited U.S. special envoy Philip Habib as saying he would need two weeks to persuade Israel to accept Lebanon’s viewpoints on security arrangements in the south.

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