Lebanese President Amin Gemayel, in an apparent bid to thwart a drive to remove him from power, urged his dormant Cabinet today to convene Monday to approve referring a controversial Syrian-mediated peace plan to parliament.
Two Sunni Moslem members of the Cabinet -- Prime Minister Rashid Karami and Education Minister Selim Hoss -- announced, however, that they would boycott Gemayel's planned Cabinet session.
Widespread reports in the news media have said Gemayel, a Christian, has been given an ultimatum to resign in one week or bear the consequences for military action against Christian areas. Gemayel, who opposes the Syrian plan, is seeking to avert a show of force by turning it over to the Lebanese parliament, but Moslem reaction to his offer underlines the severity of the political impasse.
Gemayel's call for a Cabinet meeting followed conciliatory statements toward Syria and Lebanon's Moslems by the Lebanese Forces -- the main Christian militia -- and Maronite Christian figures.
An internal Christian battle for supremacy, fueled by the signing of the Syrian-arranged agreement last month by Elie Hobeika, who was then ousted as leader of the Christian militias, dealt the peace plan a severe blow and angered Moslem leaders and Damascus.
Gemayel's office said that if the Cabinet failed to meet Monday, Gemayel would ask the legislative speaker, Hussein Husseini, to convene parliament for a constitutional appraisal of the contested accord.
Paralyzed by differences over internal policy and projected reforms as well as by bad security conditions, the Cabinet -- made up of leaders of all of Lebanon's warring factions -- has not met since last August.
Karami told reporters in Tripoli: "There is no question of submitting the accord to parliament in this manner. If the aim is to put the ball in the court of others, this is not permissible. The administration must take a positive attitude by approving the accord."
Political sources here said the attitude in Damascus is that Syrian leaders would deal only with people who have signed the accord or those accepting it without further changes.
Gemayel has refused to sign the agreement and has given Syrian President Hafez Assad a list of objections and the views of Christian hard-liners and traditionalists.
Gemayel's advisers said the Lebanese and Syrian presidents had agreed to refer discussion of the disputed issues to the Lebanese parliament should the signatories of the accord refuse.
This agreement, however, reportedly was made on Jan. 13, two days before Gemayel's loyalists and supporters of Samir Geagea, the military commander of the Lebanese Forces, led a bloody rebellion against Hobeika and forced him to leave the country.
The revolt against Hobeika embarrassed Syria and boosted Gemayel's standing in the Christian camp. Hobeika was back in Lebanon today, after consultations with Syrian leaders in Damascus. He went to the Christian town of Zahle in the Syrian-held Bekaa Valley and met with Lebanese Information Minister Joseph Skaff and a Lebanese Army intelligence officer.
Moves to isolate Gemayel politically by forming a broad Moslem-Christian opposition front have focused on the membership of Hobeika and former president Suleiman Franjieh, an ally of Syria and a foe of the Gemayel family.
Franjieh, however, has expressed reservations about the Syrian peace agreement, which calls for phased reforms curbing the powers of the Christian president and wider Moslem participation in Lebanon's power-sharing formula. Syria considers Franjieh's inclusion essential to provide traditional Christian cover for its policies.
Meanwhile, heavy fighting erupted along the dividing line between Moslem west Beirut and Christian east Beirut this afternoon after Moslem snipers killed a Lebanese Army soldier at a position in the eastern sector.