PARIS (Jun. 16)
Yitzhak Shamir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, yesterday blamed the situation in Lebanon on “the extremist elements which traditionally lead the Palestinians” and added that Israel has no quarrel with the Palestinian people as such “with whom we want to achieve a peaceful coexistence.”
Speaking at a press conference during a visit which included a lengthy meeting with French President Francois Mitterrand, Shamir said “It is because of these extremist elements, the PLO in particular, that the Palestinians find themselves in their current situation.” But, he said, “they have a homeland in Jordan.”
He reiterated Israel’s position that Israel has no territorial ambitions in Lebanon and that all Israel wants is creation of an independent, strong and efficient government in Lebanon which can rid the country of all foreign elements of domination.
He also said Israel’s main purpose for its “Peace for Galilee” military operation was to “put out of action the terrorist organizations.” He also declared that the fate of the PLO leadership, including Yasir Arafat, believed trapped in encircled Beirut, was “only a detail with which our security services and our army will have to deal.” Shamir refused to say whether Israel knows where Arafat is now and what fate awaits him if Israel captures him.
Prior to the press conference, Shamir met for 50 minutes with Mitterrand. Israeli sources said the meeting was a “dialogue” but diplomatic sources said Mitterrand renewed his call for an immediate ceased-fire and an Israeli withdrawal from its positions around Beirut. Mitterrand reportedly told Shamir that the cease-fire and withdrawal was as necessary for Israel as for Lebanon.
During the press conference, held at the Israeli Embassy, several Jewish demonstrators gathered outside the building to call for a halt to Israel’s military operations in Lebanon. Led by world-famous Jewish intellectuals, the demonstrators clashed with members of a counter-demonstration organized by a Jewish fringe group, “Jewish Revival.” There were no casualties and no arrests.