Menu JTA Search

U.S. Says Palestinians in Lebanon Must Accept Authority of Lebanese Government

The State Department said today that those Palestinians who wish to remain in Lebanon following an Israeli withdrawal, must respect the authority of the government.

“Palestinians who want to remain in Lebanon would have to be subservient to the authority of the Lebanese government,” department spokesman Dean Fischer said today.

Fischer said that the United States, since the conflict in Lebanon began, has not had direct contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization. But he said that the U.S. had “had a number of contacts with parties with input on the PLO and we would anticipate that those contacts would continue.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Alexander Haig conferred for three hours this afternoon with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali on issues that Haig said included a range of “bilateral, regional, and global problems of mutual concern to both Egypt and the U.S.”

HAIG, ALI DISCUSS LEBANON

Ali told reporters that “the Lebanon question was at the top of our discussion … much depends on the willingness of the people to get stability in the area.” The Egyptian Foreign Minister reiterated his countries commitment to the peace process, saying it remains “valid.” But on the issue of the long stalled negotiations on Palestinian autonomy, Ali said: “I think some time has to pass before overcoming the difficulties which arose in the past month.”

Haig shared a similar view on the autonomy negotiations. He said that until the situation in Lebanon is settled, “it would be difficult to go on with the peace process and the autonomy talks in particular. It would be our hope that the ultimate solution to the Lebanese crisis will be a catalyst for facilitating progress in the peace process.”

HABIB IN BEIRUT

Regarding the mission of special U.S. envoy Philip Habib, Haig said the veteran diplomat travelled today to Beirut to discuss the situation with the Lebanese government “to strengthen the future posture” the U.S. seeks along with the establishment of “authority over their territory and internationally recognized borders.” Haig added that the U.S. has held “very productive” discussions with the Syrian government on the issue of Lebanon.

Asked whether the U.S. anticipated an Israeli occupation of Beirut, Haig retorted emphatically: “We have been assured that Israel has no intention of occupying Beirut.”

Fischer had no comment on the warning to Israel by the Soviet Union today, reported by Tass, that Moscow’s interests could be affected by Israel’s actions in Lebanon. The spokesman said that “much of the Soviet rhetoric on the Lebanon crisis, particularly charges that the U.S. is in collusion with Israel, has been groundless and inflammatory.”

NEXT STORY