JERUSALEM (Jan. 10)
The leader of a U.S. Congressional delegation visiting the Middle East said here yesterday that Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat told them he would no longer attack Israel from Lebanon. Rep. Toby Moffett (D. Conn.), who is of Lebanese origin, also said there was “a case to be made” for Israel’s retaliatory raids on Palestinian terrorist bases in south Lebanon.
At a meeting with Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres in the Knesset, Moffett said his group had met with Arafat in Beirut earlier this week to exchange views on the security of both Lebanon and Israel. “He (Arafat) pledged to keep his promise not to attack Israel anymore from Lebanon — for whatever that is worth,” Moffett said.
SAYS ISRAEL HAS CASE FOR RETALIATORY RAIDS
He said he and five other members of Congress on the study mission to the region were shown “the damage done by Israel in south Lebanon. ” He said “We can’t fully understand yet what happened. Only Israel can fully understand how frustration can lead to retaliation. But we know there is a case to be made, that the Israeli actions did some good to the security situation.”
Moffett also told Peres that he had warmed Syrian President Hafez Assad in Damascus that the presence of his forces in Lebanon was wearing this and that he had counseled the Syrian leader that the Lebanese central government should bring together all the groups without engaging the assistance of outsiders. Moffett added that his group felt that the role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) should be expanded.
Peres said that Israel’s policy in south Lebanon was “coordinated tacitly with the national leadership in the north. He said Lebanon had always managed to preserve a delicate communal balance before the PLO upset the equilibrium. “Israel does not distinguish between Moslems and Christians, just between terrorists and those who keep the peace,” Peres said. He noted further that the Labor Party sought a bi-national Jordanian-Palestinian solution to the problem of some 200,000 Arab refugees still living in camps in Lebanon.