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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Nullifies Lebanon Pact

JERUSALEM -- Israel regards a three-year-old agreement with Lebanon aimed at protecting civilians as void, outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Arens said, scuttling a stopgap that has generally succeeded in containing hostilities.

Tuesday's nullification of the April 1996 "Grapes of Wrath'' agreement is one of the last acts of Benjamin Netanyahu's outgoing government, and the agreement could be renewed when moderate Ehud Barak assumes power next week.

Netanyahu, who ordered two extended air sorties deep into Lebanon last week in retaliation for a barrage of rocket attacks on Israel's northern settlements, has said he will not allow his status as a caretaker prime minister to prevent him from ordering military actions.

Meanwhile, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party joined Barak's coalition on Wednesday, radio reports said, bringing him within striking distance of forming a government dedicated to reviving the peace process.

And in Washington, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hailed Barak's pledge to continue the pursuit of Middle East peace.

"A new government in Israel has come to power. It holds the promise of better days for the peoples of Israel and Palestine,'' Mubarak said Tuesday.