PARIS (Oct. 16)
French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud today blamed the Christian militia and Israel for the recent Lebanese bloodbath. The Minister charged that the militia had started the recent fighting with Israel’s help so as to bring about an international intervention which would ultimately lead to Lebanon’s partition.
The Minister, who was addressing an Anglo-American press luncheon, said Israel had encouraged the Christian militia of former President Camille Chamoun by supplying it with heavy weapons, including American-made Sherman tanks. De Guiringaud said that both France and the United States had asked Israel last week to stop supplying the Christian forces with heavy weapons. He said that as far as he knew neither Washington nor Paris “have received a specific reply from Israel.”
De Guiringaud’s statement was the strongest anti-Christian and anti-Israel attack to have been voiced in the West since the start of the fighting. France has up to now energetically supported, at least orally, the Christian cause and de Guiringaud’s statement is expected to provoke a storm of opposition from within both government backers and opposition leaders.
The Minister said the fighting broke out in Lebanon when the Christian militia launched an attack against the Syrian forces in the country. He said the attack was carried out “after careful planning” and added, “We knew since early September that an attack against the Syrian forces (in Lebanon) was being planned.”
WILL RAISE ISSUE WITH DAYAN
De Guiringaud, who did not mince his words, said the Christian militia “received very bad advice from a neighboring country,” making it clear in his next phrase that he meant Israel. He said that Chamoun does not have more than 5000 followers among Lebanon’s half million Christians and stressed that “partition is unworkable and suicidal. It is a hope which the Christians must abandon in the interest of peace and for the sake of their own security.”
French officials said after de Guiringaud’s statement that the Minister intends to raise the Lebanese issue with Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan when the two will meet in Paris later this month. Dayan is due to pay an official visit to France between Oct. 30-31.
The officials said France will use this opportunity to press Israel to stop the delivery of arms, and especially heavy weapons such as tanks and artillery to the Christian militia in accordance with the Camp David agreement and the spirit of peace. The French explained that their views on the subject are similar to those prevailing in Washington and that the two countries act in unison on this subject.