NEWS BRIEFS ON LEBANON

PERES, NO SECRET AGREEMENTS, ONLY UNPUBLICIZED UNDERSTANDINGS

REPORTER: [through interpreter] Prime Minister, my first question is there any secret part of the agreement, a quiet or silent agreement?
SHIMON PERES: [through interpreter] There are no secret agreements. There are certain understandings and they will be publicized at a certain point later on. From Press Conference, April 26 [Editor's Note: I guess we can call this a difference without a difference. Either that or a lie.]

SECRET AGREEMENTS UNCLEAR

JIM CLANCY, Anchor: Let's go now to the White House and CNN's senior White House correspondent, Wolf Blitzer. Wolf, your impressions?

"The side agreements, the secret agreements which they spoke about which have not been made clear, of course, will be a source of tremendous concern. What, if anything, from the U.S. perspective, did the White House promise-did the United States promise Syria, Lebanon, Israel, as part of this agreement? We won't know that, presumably, for some time. U.S. officials are, of course, very encouraged that, perhaps, out of this cease-fire agreement will be a resumption of Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian talks and at achieving a comprehensive settlement. CNN, April 27

PERES TRUSTS SYRIA (DOES HE ALSO BELIEVE IN THE TOOTH FAIRY?)

Peres asked in a television interview what would prevent Hezbollah from attacking, he said, "Their hands are tied not to attack because if they do it will cause a conflict, and if there's a conflict it becomes an issue for Syria and Lebanon. "The Syrians had an agreement with us in 1974, and there has been no infringement in the Golan Heights. I attribute great importance to the fact that Syria and Lebanon have agreed to be partners." [Editor's Note: Israeli tanks on the Golan facing Damascus also had somewhat of a restraining influence on Assad.] I&GN, April 26

NETANYAHU FEELS AGREEMENT FREES HIZBALLAH TO ACT

"This is not what we waited for," he said. "This reinstates the previous situation, which created the crisis in the first place. This is an explicit Israeli license in writing for Hezbollah to act against Israeli Defense Forces in Lebanon, and furthermore it creates safe havens for Hezbollah in the villages." I&GN, April 26

CEASE FIRE AGREEMENT BLASTED BY PERES' MILITARY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF MOSHE YAALON

JERUSALEM (Reuter) - The U.S.-brokered cease-fire, which went into effect before dawn on Saturday, was widely seen as throwing a lifeline to Peres's campaign for re-election on May 29. But, as guns fell silent across a ravaged Lebanon, the hard line Likud opposition rolled out an arsenal of retired military men to blast the blitz and the truce that ended it. Peres holds a brittle lead in opinion polls over Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who caught up fast in poll standings after the militant Moslem Hamas group killed 59 people in Israel in a spate of suicide bombings in February and March.

Likud legislator Ariel Sharon, an former ex-defence minister who led the 1982 invasion of Lebanon described the agreement as surrender and said Peres agreed to it to pave the way for his U.S. visit. ``Operation Grapes of Wrath'' threatened to cost Peres, who had long warned against Israeli military and political involvement in Lebanon, the votes of Arab Israelis, who could prove crucial to an election victory.

"The cease-fire agreement won't stand the test of reality,'' said recently retired northern front commander Yitzhak Mordehai, now at the helm of the Likud campaign. Mordechai told Israel Television the operation had effected nothing more than cosmetic changes over understandings, also brokered by the United States, that ended a week-long Israeli retaliatory onslaught in Lebanon in 1993. ``It does not provide additional security for the residents of the north and certainly not for Israeli soldiers fighting in the security zone,'' he said, referring to the border strip Israel occupies in south Lebanon.

Political commentators said Peres's standing could rise or plummet depending on whether guerrilla rockets again slammed into northern Israel. The Hizbollah attacks had wounded more than 60 people in Israel. Peres's task in selling his Lebanon policy to voters was little eased by his military intelligence chief, Moshe Yaalon, who said Hizbollah would try to erode the truce by gradually escalating violations. ``Hizbollah will try to gnaw away at the accord, finding excuses to do this like they did after the 1993 operation,'' Yaalon told a news briefing "The extent of this erosion will depend on Syrian interests, on the efficacy of the monitoring group../...and in proportion to our reactions and deterrence.'' Reuters, April 28

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