Washington (Jul. 26)
Both the Israeli Ambassador to the United States and the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization denied strongly in nationally televised interviews today that the cease-fire agreed to last Friday meant that Israel and the PLO had negotiated with or recognized each other.
Ephraim Evron, the Israeli envoy, said on CBS-TV’s “Face the Nation” that Israel agreed to the “cessation of hostilities” after U.S. special Ambassador Philip Habib assured Israel Friday there would be “no acts of violence against Israel across the border” from Lebanon.
Evron noted that Israel has always held the government of Lebanon responsible for actions that originate from its territory, including the present cease-fire. “We hold them responsible for events in Lebanon,” the envoy said. “We do not negotiate with the PLO.”
He noted that it was the Arab countries that permitted the PLO to operate from Lebanon. “We certainly cannot accept a situation when an independent group can operate without any restrictions against us with the object of killing us, murdering Israelis.” Evron said the cease-fire will hold as long as the PLO does not resume shelling of northern Israel.
ARAFAT OUTLINES CONDITIONS
In an appearance from Beirut on ABC-TV’s “Issues and Answers,” PLO chief Yasir Arafat said the PLO accepted the cease-fire in response to requests from the United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and the Security Council. He said there were no negotiations with the U.S.
But Arafat said the PLO has “the right to organize ourselves,” although he denied that additional weapons and ammunition are being sent to the terrorist forces in south Lebanon. He said the PLO would not recognize Israel until the Jewish State recognizes Palestinian rights which he defined as the right to return to their “homeland,” the right of self-determination, and the right to establish a Palestinian state.
But Arafat denied that the PLO was seeking the destruction of the Jewish State. Instead he said he offered Israel “two solutions,” a Palestinian state in any part of the area from which Israel withdraws or a “democratic state” in which Jews, Christians and Arabs will live. However, he declared that the Palestinians as an “occupied people” has a right to continue terrorist actions against Israel.
Both Evron and Arafat maintained that the cease-fire included the Christian enclave in south Lebanon.
Arafat said he did not know what direct role Saudi Arabia played in achieving the cease-fire, although he said the Saudis and other “Arab brothers” had helped the Palestinians.
Evron said that Israel did not consider the Saudis as “moderates” as did the U.S. since Saudi Arabia was in the “vanguard of hotilities to Israel.” But he said if recent actions by the Saudis demonstrated a change in their policy, Israel “will be happy.”
Arafat praised the Soviet Union for its “support of our rights.” He warned President Reagan that there cannot be a solution for the Middle East without considering Palestinian rights. The Palestinians are the “irreversible figure in the Middle East equation,” Arafat maintained.