WASHINGTON (Aug. 20)
The United States is conducting “or continuing investigation” of Israel’s possible use of American weapons beyond its own borders, State Department spokesman David Passage said against the background of Israel’s incursion into south Lebanon Monday night and yesterday morning. “I don’t know if the law has been violated. “He said U.S. law prohibits use of American weaponry outside the borders of the country that receives them.
Israeli Ambassador Ephraim Evron told reporters here today that Israel did use American weapons in Lebanon yesterday but there was nothing wrong with this since it was for defensive purposes. “We did not get weapons in order not to use them,” he said. “The raid was part of our self-defense policy.”
Evron stressed that “there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be used.” He said the American weapons were given to Israel “in order to help us defend ourselves. That was the purpose of this operation.” The Israeli envoy added that the “violence” in Lebanon “will stop as soon as our neighbors choose to make peace. As long as they are intent on attacking us, we will have to defend ourselves.”
U.S. VIEW OF ISRAELI RAIDS
In discussing Israel’s raids, Passage reiterated previous U.S. views on Israeli penetrations of south Lebanon where Palestinian terrorists have military strongholds by noting that “continuing violence contributes to violence” and expressing support for the integrity of Lebanon. He refused to condemn the Israeli incursion, saying he has “no way of characterizing the raid except to note that it took place.”
Passage added that “We are deeply concerned by rising tensions and we call on all parties to act with restraint.” Asked if the parties include Major Sood Haddad, the leader of the Christian militia in south Lebanon, Passage replied in the affirmative. He did not mention the Palestine Liberation Organization in this context.
Regarding the investigation into Israel’s use of U.S. arms, Passage was asked if it includes investigating the activities of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), from whom the PLO has been reported to be getting weapons which are used in attacking Israel and whether Israel’s raid was impugning the integrity of the state of Lebanon or attacking “a state within a state” in Lebanon. He said that the U.S. is looking into the circumstances of the raid.
REACTIONS IN OTHER CENTERS
In Beirut, however, the U.S. Embassy there condemned the Israeli raids and said they would lead to an increase in tension in the region. (See related story P. 3) Lebanese Foreign Minister Fuad Butros criticized Arab nations for failing to formulate strategy to meet “Israel’s aggressive policy.” He also stated that the major powers were indifferent to repeated Israeli strikes in south Lebanon. In Cairo, Egypt also condemned the raids as a new obstacle to peace.
At the United Nations, Lebanon requested “an urgent intervention by the United Nations and by all those who are in a position to do so” in the situation in south Lebanon following the Israeli raids. Hassan Tueni, Lebanon’s chief delgate, said it was more and more urgent that the UN intervene if its resolutions on the subject were to retain credibility. He did not ask for a formal meeting of the Security Council.
Also at the UN, Secretary General Kurt Waldheim appealed to all sides to maintain peace in the area. His spokesman said the UNIFIL commander had protested to Israeli authorities. The spokesman also said that Waldheim deplored the cycle of violence and resulting casualties and urged that all parties “cooperate fully with UNIFIL in its efforts to fulfill its mandate and, in particular, to maintain peace in the area.”