WASHINGTON (Aug. 20)
U.S. Ambassador John Dean’s statement today in Beirut condemning Israel for raiding terrorist strongholds in Lebanon was set aside within several hours by the State Department which said its words, and not those of the ambassador, constitute the U.S. government’s position.
The American Embassy in Beirut “condemned” yesterday’s raid as “contrary to Israeli public assurances and Israeli respect for Lebanon’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” In Washington, State Department spokesman David Passage said yesterday “we are deeply concerned by rising tensions and violence in that area” and “we call on all parties to act with restraint.”
Passage was asked: “What is the official position?” in view of the differences between the Beirut and Washington statements. “The Department’s view, as I have given it,” Passage said today, repeating yesterday’s comment. “That’s the official position of the United States government.” Passage’s statements did not “condemn” Israel.
Acknowledging that the Department had been in touch with Dean after he made his denunciation of Israel, Passage refused to “describe internal messages” when asked whether the envoy was told to “shut up.”
Passage said “The State Department makes statements and embassies make statements. Dean’s statement should be read for what it is, and my statement should be read for what it is. Everything we both said indicates we are deeply concerned about the raid.” He added that he would not have anything more to say about the Dean statement or the Israeli raid “until we have had an opportunity to assess them.”
TEXT OF ENVOY’S STATEMENT
At the request of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the text of Dean’s statement in Beirut was made available. It follows: “The Embassy of the United States of America notes reports of additional Israeli raids in southern Lebanon the night of Aug. 18-19. As pointed out in our statement of Aug. 15, the U.S. government has consistently opposed such preemptive raids. The embassy strongly condemns these latest raids, which are contrary to Israeli public assurances regarding Israel’s respect for Lebanese territorial integrity and sovereignty and which increase tensions in the area.”
The Aug. 15 statement was in reference, the JTA was told, to the Israeli raid near Sidon in which terrorist equipment was destroyed. Passage said that the Beirut view of the raid was “a factor” in the Department’s assessment of it. Asked if Dean had the information the Department has, Passage replied, “I would be a bit disinclined to think so. He spoke as an ambassador in Lebanon. I have spoken on behalf of the U.S. government rather than the embassy in Beirut.”
Dean, 54 years old and a career U.S. diplomat, is a German refugee from Hitlerism. He was born in Germany in 1926, the son of Joseph and Lucy Ashkenaczy and came to the U.S. in 1939, according to Who’s Who in America.
The implication of Passage’s remarks on the ### statement was that Dean was pleasing the Lebanon government to which he is accredited while the State Department was speaking from a brooder perspective. Personnel in the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon are known to have protection from Palestine Liberation Organization units. American envoys have been murdered by terrorists in Beirut and Khartoum.