Lebanon dismisses Israeli withdrawal offer
Lebanon-Israel, Politics, 12/4/1997
Lebanon on Wednesday dismissed a call by an Israeli opposition leader for a unilateral withdrawal from south Lebanon as purely "academic" and late-coming. Foreign Minister Fares Boueiz said, however, that Lebanon would welcome an Israeli offer for an unconditional withdrawal, were it serious.
Boueiz was responding to a call this week by Yossi Beilin, a labor party leader, for Israel to withdraw from south Lebanon and render the Lebanese army responsible for security along the international border with Israel.
Under the plan, an arrangement would be found for members of the South Lebanon Army, Israel's proxy militia in south Lebanon.
"He (Beilin) should have proposed this plan when he was still in power," Boueiz said at a press conference Wednesday. "Today he is making a proposal as a member of the opposition." Boueiz added that Beilin was "in no position to express an official stance which could be taken seriously."
The foreign minister added that Lebanon would decide the fate of the SLA militiamen should an Israeli withdrawal take place. Lebanon accuses the militiamen of being traitors and has sentenced their leader, Antoine Lahd, to death on charges of collaborating with enemy Israel.
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