Israel and Lebanon resumed their military negotiations in southern Lebanon today, with the Lebanese demanding an unconditional Israeli withdrawal and up to $10 billion in war reparations.
Meeting with Israeli and U.N. military delegations at the United Nations' southern Lebanon headquarters at Naqura, the Lebanese negotiating team made public a six-page statement in which it accused Israel of turning southern Lebanon into a "prison" and of engaging in "inhuman practices" against the residents of the Israeli-occupied territory.
In addition to $8 billion to $10 billion in reparations for damage caused by the June 1982 Israeli invasion, the statement said Lebanon demanded "the rapid and unconditional withdrawal of Israel" from the country and recognition of "the natural and legal rights of Lebanon to recover its sovereignty and authority over its territories."
The Lebanese statement was read in the meeting by the head of Lebanon's delegation, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Haj. In demanding war reparations, Haj said that about 1,000 Lebanese were killed as a result of the Israeli invasion and that more than 1,000 others were wounded.
The statement made clear the wide gulf that separates the two sides, not only on the details of the security arrangements Israel is seeking in southern Lebanon but even on the framework of the negotiations.
An Israeli spokesman, however, called the Lebanese statement a "declaration of aspirations, not practicalities," suggesting that Israel viewed it largely as an exercise in rhetoric.
Speaking to reporters in Naqura, the spokesman for the Israeli side characterized the session, the second meeting among the three military delegations, as "very calm, relaxed and friendly."
As for reparations, the Israeli spokesman said this subject was outside the mandate of the Naqura talks, which he said were to be confined to security arrangements to protect Israel's northern border and an Israeli troop withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
The negotiations, which began last Thursday, were suspended two days later by Lebanon to protest Israel's arrest of four Lebanese Shiite Moslem militia leaders.
Israel released three of the four prisoners yesterday, but continues to hold the most prominent among them, Mahmoud Faqih, who is described as the southern Lebanon commander of the Shiite militia Amal. Faqih is expected to be released after interrogation, part of a compromise arrangement that led to the resumption of the negotiations today.
At last week's opening session, the Israeli delegation stated its objectives in the talks.
There are two basic elements in the Israeli proposals. One calls for a redeployment of U.N. forces in Lebanon to the north, where they would take control of much of the territory between the Awwali and Zahrani rivers.
The Israelis are also proposing that the largely Christian South Lebanon Army, which Israel finances, equips and trains, take over the territory south of the new U.N. positions to the Israeli border. Finally, Israel is demanding the right to reenter Lebanon to assist the South Lebanon Army.
The Lebanese opening statement rejected all of the Israeli demands. It said security tasks should be turned over to the regular Lebanese Army and internal security forces, while the Israeli Army would not be allowed to operate in southern Lebanon.
The Lebanese said U.N. soldiers, rather than being redeployed to the north, should patrol the Israeli-Lebanese border and help the Lebanese Army maintain security.