THURMONT, MD (Sep. 12)
Robert Basil, president of the American-Lebanese League, which claims a membership of two million, strongly defended Israel’s aid to Christians in war-tom Lebanon and denounced the “barbarous Syrian occupation” of that country at a press conference here today. At the same time, the Shah of Iran, whose country is also wracked by internal strife, publicly assured Israel of a continuing oil supply.
Both developments drew the attention of the media assembled here as the secretive Camp David summit conference, now in its second week, failed to yield any substantive news. The Shah made his remarks in a long-distance television interview with ABC News correspondent Barbara Walters. He said, in Teheran, that he “would not bow to Arab pressure” to cut off Israel’s oil supply. Iran provides about 60 percent of Israel’s petroleum needs.
Commenting on the Camp David talks, the Shah said “Progress is slow but let us not despair.” He said that peace in the Middle East “would have a salutary effect on the whole region.” But he observed that Iran is not a part of the Middle East but part of western Asia.
APPEALS FOR SECURE LEBANON
Basil appealed to the conferees at Camp David for a statement affirming Lebanon’s territorial integrity and sovereignty as “a Western-oriented democracy.” He declared that Syria “no longer is a stabilizing” element in Lebanon but was trying to destroy the Christian community there and to “turn Lebanon into an occupation state.”
Questioned about Israel’s reasons and motivations for aiding the Lebanese Christians, Basil said “if the difference of Israel’s intervention or non-intervention in Lebanon means the survival of the Christians in Lebanon, we fully support Israeli intervention for that purpose.”
Asked if he thought Israel’s motivations were “completely altruistic, “Basil replied, “All nations, including the U.S.,” have a “mixture of motives.” When a reporter asked if Israel’s intervention in Lebanon was intended to destroy the Palestinians, Basil said “no” and accused the questioner of engaging in “conspiratorial thinking.”
He said that “in the strategic concept,” Israel has “clearly aligned itself in the camp of the West” and “would be clearly concerned by the demise of another Western-oriented democracy. “He said that “for its own national security, Israel would like Lebanon to be a democratic buffer state.”
Basil said he was neither pro-Zionist nor pro-Phalangist but that he “fully believes in a pluralistic Lebanon” and the removal of all foreign elements from Lebanon.” Replying to a question, he said “Palestinians are not Lebanese.” (By Joseph Polakoff)