WASHINGTON (Aug. 30)
The Carter Administration at the highest levels has formally declared Israel is practicing “terror” by its attacks on Palestinian terrorists in south Lebanon and rejects Israel’s position that its attacks are in self-defense to prevent terrorists from striking at Israelis from their south Lebanese bases.
The Administration also has made plain, in a follow up to resigned Ambassador Andrew Young’s address to the UN Security Council yesterday on violence in south Lebanon that it will consult with Congress on possibilities of reducing U.S. weaponry to Israel as punishment for Israeli incursions in south Lebanon.
Young yesterday spoke of “terror and counter-terror” and called on Israel to “end its policy of preemptive strikes on Lebanese soil.” He also said “the Palestinian leadership should stop attacks on the Lebanese militia groups in southern Lebanon and on Israel.”
Young’s address, which the State Department and Young himself said was cleared by the U.S. government’s highest authorities, did not mention the Palestine Liberation Organization by name.
Today, the State Department’s chief spokesman, Hodding Carter, was asked to explain the shift in U.S. policy since it previously had spoken of the “cycle and re-cycle of violence” or used similar language in describing the PLO infiltrations against Israelis and Israeli retaliation.
“The words have to speak for themselves,” Carter said in reference to Young’s statement, while confirming that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance had approved them. Vance, who returned from vacation yesterday, is to meet the press next Wednesday at the State Department. Congress returns the same day from its summer vacation.
DAYAN BEING BLAMED
State Department sources are putting out the views that Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan is to blame for the stiff anti-Israel position taken by the U.S. on south Lebanon. These sources contend that Dayan had said the U.S. approves Israeli shelling of Palestinian bases but opposes casualties the Israeli “preemptive strikes” cause among civilians.
The Department response to the Dayan remark did not fully reject the Dayan comment, the sources say, and this caused the situation among the PLO and others in Lebanon to “become ugly” against Americans. To overcome this “ugly” attitude, which alarmed the American Embassy in Beirut, the Department on Monday said it rejected the Israeli “strategy” in south Lebanon and then followed up with Young’s address and Carter’s remarks today.
Carter said repeatedly today that the U.S. is not “condoning” terrorism; that the Young statement “has to stand on its own feet and explains itself”; and that the Department “certainly is not suggesting that any people can be expected to endure terrorism.”
Responding to questions from a reporter on how the U.S. expects Israel to stop PLO killers from murdering innocent people in Israel after Israel had erected all sorts of barriers in hope of preventing infiltrations by the PLO, Carter replied, “We suggest it is no answer in steadily employing use of force” and “particularly when the majority” of the victims are “strictly innocents.” He added that “we have been seeking repeatedly to prevent the continuing tragedy on both sides.”
Asked whether Young’s remarks were intended to “pick on Israel,” Carter denied that was the purpose. He said Young was addressing “both sides” and he added that “both sides” is a “loose term” because “we are talking of more than two sets of players.” He said the U.S. is trying “across the board” to settle the situation. He added that “there is no way to settle it by one party.”