Begin Sends Reagan Assurances Move into Lebanon is Limited

Premier Menachem Begin assured President Reagan today that Israel’s military objective in Lebanon is limited to driving Palestine Liberation Organization force beyond artillery and rocket range of settlements in northern Israel. He said the army, which entered Lebanon today in force, has orders “to push back the terrorists to a distance of 40 kilometers (25 miles) to the north so that all our civilians in the region of Galilee will be freed of the permanent threat to their lives.”

Begin’s statement was contained in a lengthy reply to a message he received from Reagan today calling on him to “do what you can to avoid military steps that could lead to a widening of the conflict and even greater Israeli casualties.” Excerpts from both messages were released here this evening.

Reagan, attending a western economic summit meeting in Versailles, addressed his message, “Dear Menachem.” He stated, “Following the abominable shooting of Ambassador (Shloua) Argov (in London Thursday night) and the subsequent escalation of violence, I am sure you are aware of our efforts with interested parties in Europe and the Mideast to urge that no further actions be taken against Israel that could only worsen the situation. As we continue our efforts, I hope you will give the most serious consideration to the message (U.S.) Ambassador (Samuel) Lewis conveyed to you late Saturday evening and will do what you can to avoid military steps that could lead to a widening of the conflict and even greater Israeli casualties … I hope you will agree on the need to work together to bring about those conditions which, over time,” will recreate a stable and secure Lebanon and ultimately lead to security on Israel’s northern border.”

REAGAN SEEKS END TO ‘VIOLENCE’

The President expressed hope that “our efforts will succeed to ensure that the situation does not go beyond the violence of recent hours,” adding, “As you know, the Security of Israel remains of the utmost concern to me.”

Begin’s reply stressed at several points the Soviet link to the PLO. He observed that “For the last 72 hours, 23 of our towns, townships and villages have been under the constant shelling of Soviet-supplied heavy artillery and Katyusha rockets by the PLO terrorists … We have suffered causalities. The terrorists are aiming their guns exclusively at the civilian population…”

At another point he expressed the “hope, Mr. President, that you will take into consideration the unique situation in which we find ourselves as a result of the repeated aggression against us perpetrated by a Soviet promoted terrorist organization bent on shedding the blood of our people in the land and abroad.”

Begin claimed that Israel was exercising its “inherent right to self-defense” under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. “We do not covet one inch of Lebanese territory. We wish to sign a peace treaty with a free, independent Lebanon that will preserve its territorial integrity. But it is our duty to make sure that our citizens and their families can live peacefully and carry on their daily lives without the lurking permanent threat of sudden death.”

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