Israeli parliament rejects early pullout in Lebanon

The Israeli parliament rejected 55 to 47 an opposition Labor Party proposal for an early withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. Labor Party leader Shimon Peres said the proposal was designed to reduce Israeli casualties in Lebanon and avoid the danger of a new round of fighting with Syria. Defense Minister Moshe Arens said Israel could not withdraw unilaterally because Syrian and Palestinian troops would quickly occupy any territory evacuated.

The vote came amid mounting domestic criticism of the war, which has killed hundreds of Israelis since the invasion a year ago. Two more Israeli soldiers were reported killed in a car bomb blast in Beirut Wednesday, official Beirut radio said.

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