BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) -- Israel's decision to withdraw from an occupied zone in Lebanon is meant to cause trouble in the region, Syria said today as Israeli missiles hit south Lebanese targets again.
Israel's Cabinet voted unanimously Sunday to withdraw by July from the zone Israel set up in Lebanon in 1985. Syria, the main power broker in Lebanon, wants Israel out of the occupied zone but does not want it to withdraw unilaterally.
''Such a formula aims at driving wedges between Syria and Lebanon, singling out Lebanon and imposing Israeli conditions on it,'' said Tishrin, an official newspaper that reflects government thinking.
The firm deadline for withdrawal could deny Syria what Israel has said is a major tool in peace negotiations. Israel says Syria has used the low-level war between Lebanese guerrillas and Israeli forces to pressure Israel to make concessions.
The question now is whether Syria can be pressed into resuming negotiations for the peace needed to seal the pullback.
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy said the withdrawal decision would test Syria's true intentions. If Syria is serious about making peace, an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon will expedite a treaty, he said.
''If Syria is not serious, and its tactics are to wear us down and keep us engaged (in south Lebanon), we will not be hostages to its continued rejectionism,'' Levy said.
Peace talks with Syria broke off in January over a Syrian demand that Israel agree in advance to withdraw from the entire Golan Heights, the strategic plateau seized in a 1967 war. Israel refused, saying it first wanted to know the extent of peace and security arrangements Syria was prepared to offer.
An Israeli Cabinet statement said the government would ''act to ensure'' that the pullout comes within the framework of a peace deal with Syria. But Israeli officials made clear the withdrawal would take place if a deal were not reached.
In southern Lebanon today, Israeli warplanes struck a suspected guerrilla base for the second straight day following guerrilla attacks on Israeli and allied militia outposts, Lebanese security officials said.
Israeli jets fired two missiles on a valley between the villages of Majdal Silim and Kabrikha, four miles west of the Israeli border, the officials said.
In Jerusalem, the Israeli army confirmed the raid. There was no immediate word on casualties from the morning airstrike, the latest in a series of Israeli air raids in recent weeks targeting suspected guerrilla positions.
Despite the ongoing skirmishes, Sunday's Cabinet decision reflected a rare consensus that Israel's longtime presence in Lebanon is no longer -- if it ever was -- the right way to protect its northern towns from cross-border attacks.
''It's an end to the tragedy,'' Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who has promised the pullback for the past year, told reporters. ''We are bringing the boys home.''
''Finally, society is saying 'enough,''' said Linda Ben Zvi, a founder of the grassroots, pro-withdrawal group ''Four Mothers'' that was criticized as anti-patriotic when first formed three years ago. Since that time, rising troop casualties and, in some cases, promises of regional peace have turned public opinion toward a withdrawal.
But a unilateral withdrawal would hold risks. It would leave Israel's northern border vulnerable to attacks by Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas. Israeli army chief Lt. Gen. Shaul Mofaz said Sunday that could lead to even more deaths than the approximately 600 soldiers who have died patrolling the border zone in the last 15 years.
In the northern Israeli town of Kiryat Shemona, frequently the target of Hezbollah rockets, municipal officials said the decision to withdraw would leave the town and other communities living in fear of cross-border attacks.
Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who led a grassroots movement for a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon, played down the dangers.
''There is no shortage of doomsday predictions,'' Beilin said. ''I want to remind all these good people that the price we already paid in Lebanon is so high that nothing could be compared to it.''
In Beirut, Prime Minister Salim Hoss said Sunday that he welcomed any Israeli withdrawal, but preferred that the troops be pulled out as part of a settlement ''because we do not trust Israeli intentions.''
Hezbollah guerrillas had no immediate reaction. Israeli officials predict they will continue their war, possibly launching new attacks on northern Israel. Hezbollah has said it will turn to political activity after Israel's occupation ends, but it has not said it will put down its arms.
Officials have suggested that after July, an attack on Israel's north would be met by Israeli airstrikes inside Lebanon -- a playing field in which Israel's top notch military has a clear advantage.
''I don't advise anyone to test our reaction when we are deployed on the international border and defending Israel from there,'' Barak said Sunday.
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