Israel has set as conditions for withdrawing its Army from Lebanon the removal of Syrian and Palestinian forces from the country and the establishment of an internationally supervised demilitarized zone to guarantee the security of the northern Galilee border region, Israeli sources said tonight.
The conditions, along with a number of Israeli proposals for a political settlement of the Lebanese crisis, were outlined for U.S. special envoy Philip C. Habib in a meeting today with a Cabinet committee that includes Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the sources said.
As Habib continued his efforts to bring an end to hostilities in Lebanon, senior Israeli officials, assessing the results of last week's invasion, said the anticipated elimination of the Palestine Liberation Organization as an effective military--or even political--force, has enormous strategic implications for the U.S. role in the Middle East.
In an almost euphoric mood, these officials said Israel's success in the invasion has provided the Reagan administration a unique opportunity to increase its influence in the region, at the expense of any aspirations the Soviet Union may have had. At the same time, they say, the United States could become the dominant force and realize President Reagan's ambitions for forging a strategic alliance and crafting a comprehensive peace.
"The United States has been handed by us on a silver platter political and strategic advantages that it could never have dreamed of before this operation," said one senior Israeli official. "We hope the Americans recognize the opportunity and don't let it slip away."
Neither the Israeli government nor Habib announced details of the conditions and proposals, but informed Israeli sources said they consisted of broad outlines of arrangements Israel will seek before it ends its occupation of Lebanon, which now extends from the Israeli frontier north to the outskirts of Beirut.
According to the sources, the Cabinet decided in a meeting earlier today that:
All foreign forces must be withdrawn from Lebanon, including the approximately 25,000 Syrian troops that were deployed there in 1976 as an Arab League peace-keeping force to end the civil war and the PLO guerrilla forces within the territory already occupied by Israel.
In principle, Israel is opposed to any PLO presence in Lebanon, even in Beirut and elsewhere north of the invading force's line of advance, and will include that as an objective in the negotiations for a withdrawal agreement, sources said.
Establishment of an international peace-keeping force in a demilitarized zone in southern Lebanon that would place civilian settlements in northern Israel out of artillery range of any hostile forces.
Israel has proposed that the United States participate in the peace-keeping force, as it has in the multinational force in the Sinai Peninsula. Israel has said it will not initiate any steps to expand the U.N. peace-keeping force in Lebanon, because such a force would be set up with approval and participation by the Soviet Union. This means that the new force would be independent of U.N. control.
Israel will not withdraw from territory captured by its Army unless arrangements are completed ensuring, to Israel's satisfaction, that PLO guerrillas will not return to the occupied area.
The Israeli officials reportedly did not use the term "conditions," saying instead that Israel has a policy in foreign affairs of not accepting or imposing conditions. But it reportedly was made clear that there are certain minimum requirements for a withdrawal.
The ministerial committee is understood to have told Habib that it is opposed to a disengagement of Syrian and Israeli forces in Lebanon, and that the Israeli Army will not be ordered back until a complete settlement is negotiated.
A senior Israeli government source said that the conditions and proposals were kept broad intentionally so all issues of security of Israel's northern frontier could be addressed during future negotiations.
"Our first concern is the Galilee. That is the starting point. Then later, we will address the many other questions of the ultimate political status of Lebanon," he said.
The official added, "I think this is a historic opportunity to liberate Lebanon from foreign forces, not only us but everybody else. If we can restore Lebanon to what it was before the civil war , it will be a great contribution to the world."
Israeli officials said they did not expect negotiations to begin immediately but that Habib would transmit the proposals and conditions to Washington and "other interested parties." Habib is expected to continue his diplomatic shuttle with a visit to Damascus.
Cabinet sources said that during today's meeting of ministers, Begin emphasized that Israel has no intention of remaining in Lebanon and wants a speedily arranged settlement so the Army can withdraw. In the interim, Begin reportedly said, the Army will continue to dismantle the PLO military structure in the area it controls and search out Palestinian guerrillas.
To use the opportunity presented by the virtual dismantling of the PLO, Israeli policy-makers say, the Reagan administration should immediately make a concerted effort to broaden the Camp David peace process and, as a result, permanently weaken Soviet influence throughout the Middle East.
Envisioning advantages to Israel that could materialize with U.S. assertiveness in the region, a senior official said, "Who runs the show in the Middle East now? The answer is, the United States and Israel. The United States has to see this opportunity for what it is, and in the last week, happily, there have been signs that it does."
Israel's military successes in the first five days of the war in Lebanon, and the Army's systematic dismantling of the PLO military network in southern Lebanon during the occupation, appear to have removed the PLO as a military threat for years.
Although it could continue to function as a political force outside Lebanon, its influence has been weakened greatly as a result of its defeats, not only in the Arab countries but throughout the world, in the Israeli view.
Syria, one of the most hard-line opponents to the Camp David process and U.S. involvement in the region, has been isolated in the Arab world even more than it was already as a result of its backing of Iran in the Persian Gulf war.
Officials note that this was the first of Israel's five wars in which no Arab state spoke of rushing troops to confront the Israelis, although Libya and Iraq made symbolic gestures.
The Israelis were pleased to note that Egypt, despite flashes of rhetoric condemning the invasion, has continued the process of normalizing relations with Israel.
Israeli officials said the demise of the PLO as a military force is likely to strengthen the Israeli-supported groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip that have opposed the PLO and supported the Camp David process.