UNITED NATIONS (Jun. 27)
The United States vetoed a Security Council resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces “to a distance of 10 kilometers from the periphery” of Beirut and calling “upon all armed elements in the Beirut area to respect and abide by the exclusive authority of the government of Lebanon.”
The veto of the French-proposed resolution was cast late yesterday by the acting U.S. chief delegate Charles Lichtenstein. It placed the U.S. in opposition to the 14 other Council members, including its major West European allies who backed the measure. Earlier yesterday, the U.S. and Israel cast the only votes against a resolution in the General Assembly demanding Israel’s immediate withdrawal from all of Lebanon and asking the UN to consider punitive actions should Israel fail to comply. The measure, adopted by a vote of 127-2, unlike Security Council resolutions, is non-binding.
The American veto in the Security Council and its negative vote in the General Assembly were cast against the background of turmoil and drama in Washington which greeted the announcement that President Reagan had accepted the resignation of Secretary of State Alexander Haig and nominated George Shultz to succeed him. The action by the U.S. in the UN reflected Haig’s policy that was supportive of at least two of Israel’s goals in Lebanon — the departure of all foreign elements, including the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Syrian army and the establishment of an internationally-policed buffer zone in south Lebanon which would protect northern Israel from terrorist attacks in the future.