Israel Reportedly to Step Up Troop Pullout to May

Associated Press

Israeli troops will complete their withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May, four months earlier than previously planned, the Jerusalem Post reported today.

The report came as Israel faced growing pressure to speed up its pullout because of rising attacks on Israeli soldiers. Eighteen soldiers have been killed this month, bringing to 641 the number of Israelis killed in Lebanon.

The newspaper said Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir of the hawkish Likud bloc, who voted against the phased pullout approved by the Cabinet on Jan. 14, has withdrawn his objections.

Shamir's decision removed the last political obstacle to an early withdrawal, the report said. The Cabinet is scheduled to approve the start of the third and final stage of the evacuation by April 15 and the last soldier will leave Lebanon by the first week of May, it said.

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