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Israel, Lebanon agree on agenda

By Trudy RubinSpecial correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor / January 14, 1983



Jerusalem

For the second time in Middle East history an Arab nation will sit down with Israel to talk about the practicality of peaceful relations. Israel and Lebanon will not be discussing a formal peace treaty.

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But the compromise agenda, worked out after three weeks of stalemate, with intensive United States mediation, lists ''termination of the state of war'' between the two countries, as well as several specifics of a ''framework for mutual relations'' as Items 1 and 3 to be discussed.

The agenda also calls for discussion of security arrangements between the two countries (Item 2); for Israeli troop withdrawal in the context of the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon (Item 4); and for discussion of possible guarantees.

The agenda had been stuck over a difference of emphasis. Israel wanted stress on normalization of relations with Lebanon, in order to extract political as well as military gains from the Lebanon campaign. Lebanon, aware of Arab opposition to normalization, wanted emphasis on withdrawal of Israeli troops from its soil, as well as Syrian and the Palestine Liberation Organization troops.

The compromise solution: the agenda called for all items to be discussed concurrently and gives them equal status, thus blurring the issue of priorities. It also contains an oblique phrase exempting the parties from ''prior commitment to the outcome of the negotiation,'' apparently an out for the Lebanese, who can tell other Arab states that the agenda points are not binding principles.

But the agenda complies with Israeli insistence that an end to the state of war, not just non-belligerency, be discussed. It also lists specifically as discussion points the components of normalization while avoiding the term liaison office (which Israel views as embassy), an end to hostile propaganda, and the movement of goods, persons, and communications. This is a trade-off Israel indicated earlier it was willing to make. ''This is exactly what we want, '' an Israeli official said. The agenda makes no reference to prior withdrawal of the PLO before Israel and Syria, which Israel wanted. Nor does it set a specific timetable for troop withdrawal, which Lebanon would have liked.