Washington (Jun. 2)
The United States declared today that it has not given any “green light” for Israeli air raids on Palestinian bases in south Lebanon. Dean Fischer, the State Department spokesman, also indicated that the raids have a harmful effect on the efforts of President Reagan’s special envoy, Philip Habib, to find a peaceful solution to the current crisis over Lebanon.
“We have consistently from the beginning, urged on all parties, that any escalation of military activities of any kind, is not helpful to the peace process,” Fischer said reading from a prepared statement. “There have been absolutely no green lights given to any of the parties for any military activities.”
Fischer explained that when he said “from the beginning” he meant since the current crisis in Lebanon, which revolved around Syrian stationing of SAM-6 anti-aircraft missiles in eastern Lebanon and Israel’s threat to remove them by force. The U.S. credits Habib’s three week shuttle in the area with preventing war from breaking out.
The State Department statement today was in contrast to what Fischer said last week after the Israelis attacked what they said were Libyan missiles stationed at the Palestinian terrorist bases in Lebanon. At that time, Fischer said the Israeli attack would not affect the Habib mission because it occured in south Lebanon and did not involve an Israeli-Syrian confrontation.
VELIOTES EXPLAINS ISRAELI RAIDS
Greater understanding of the Israeli position appeared to come earlier today from Nicholas Veliotes, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs. Answering questions at the State Department’s annual conference for U.S. editors and broadcasters, Veliotes said the Israeli raids were carried out because of the presence of “armed elements, particularly in south Lebanon, who attacked Israel.”
Meanwhile, Fischer maintained that the U.S. does not consider that there is any deadline for Habib to complete his mission. He said he would not comment on Premier Menachem Begin’s statement yesterday that Israel does have a time limit for Habib to obtain removal of the missiles. He noted the Department’s position of not commenting on any public statements by any of the parties involved in Lebanon crisis.
Fischer said that no date has yet been set for Habib to return to the Middle East although he is still expected to go there this week.