Jerusalem (May. 6)
Premier Menachem Begin vehemently defended Israel’s actions in Lebanon today, claimed the complete understanding of the U.S. and hinted strongly that Israel would take military measures if American diplomatic efforts to have Syrian SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles removed from Lebanon do not succeed. Begin indicated that he didn’t think the efforts would succeed.
He made his remarks in the course of an Independence Day interview to be broadcast on Israel Radio tomorrow and in an interview published in Maariv today. His assessment of the situation with respect to the missiles was that “only a miracle can solve the missile crisis by diplomatic means.”
Begin described American diplomatic activity in the crisis as “absolutely global,” extending from the Soviet Union to Abu-Dhabi. He insisted that there was complete understanding in Washington of the need to restore the status quo ante in Lebanon and that the U.S. was making no quid pro quo demands on Israel.
The Premier maintained that the continued presence of the SAM-6 missiles in Lebanon was intolerable to Israel because Israeli reconnaissance and photographic flights over that country were essential as long as Lebanon is occupied by Syrian forces. He warned that if the missiles are not withdrawn, Israel would do “what it has to do.”
But he also claimed that Israel did not want a confrontation with Syria and he did not believe Syria wanted war with Israel. Therefore, he said, he did not foresee a general confrontation between the two countries over the missiles issue.
RENEWS ATTACK ON SCHMIDT, GISCARD
Begin renewed his bitter personal attack on Chancellor Helmut Schmidt of West Germany. Referring to Schmidt’s activities during World War II, Begin described him as “a good officer in Hitler’s army.” He said he had no way of knowing if Schmidt had been a member of the Nazi party but he never broke his oath to Hitler.
Begin noted that Schmidt had fought on the Eastern front where the main destruction of European Jewry occurred. “The army might not have done the actual killing but they surrounded the towns to preserve order while it was being done,” the Israeli Prime Minister said. Now, he observed, Schmidt is allying himself with Saudi Arabia which has called for a holy war against Israel and gives millions of dollars to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Begin also renewed his attack on President Valery Giscard d’Estaing of France who he accused of having no principles other than to sell the most dangerous weapons to the Arabs and get oil from them.