WASHINGTON (Jul. 13)
Secretary of State-designate George Shultz said today that the situation in Lebanon has demonstrated the urgency of satisfying the “political aspirations” of the Palestinian people.
“The crisis in Lebanon makes painfully and totally clear a central reality of the Middle East: the legitimate needs and problems of the Palestinian people must be addressed and resolved — urgently and in all their dimensions,” Shultz said in a prepared statement as his confirmation hearing opened before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Beyond the suffering of the Palestinian people lies a complex of political problems which must be addressed if the Middle East is to know peace.” Under questioning from Senators, Shultz said that he regretted that Israel went into Lebanon, since he noted the cease-fire established by President Reagan’s special envoy Philip Habib a year ago seemed to be holding. He noted that the Israeli action did not address the major issue, which was the lack of progress on the Palestinian problem.
He said that the “tremendous amount of bloodshed” in Lebanon is appalling to him and others. “There’s got to be a better way,” he said. “Let us try to find it with more of a sense of urgency than we have had before.”
Shultz said it would be “unfortunate” if Israel went into Beirut. He implied that if Israel did take that action, the U.S. might find that Israel had violated U.S. law by abuse of American weapons for offensive rather than defensive purposes. He said that the State Department would study whether Israel has violated U.S. law by using U.S. weapons in Lebanon and by the use of cluster bombs and that he would make this a priority item after he is sworn in as Secretary of State.
Shultz said he believes the Palestine Liberation Organization was willing to leave west Beirut. “Their problem is that nobody seems to be anxious to have them,” he said. He said he could understand this because their presence has destabilized governments.
TALK ABOUT GETTING TOUGH WITH ISRAEL
Shultz also said that the Israeli policy of establishing settlements on the West Bank has been unhelpful to what he said was the necessity to bring about “some sense of identity for the Palestinians.”
When Sen. Paul Tsongas (D. Mass.) said that someone in the Administration should get “tough” with Israel about the settlements, Shultz replied that it depended on what kind of support was given in Congress to such a move.
But Shultz added that while it may be necessary to get tough, it is much better to press the importance of peace to the area.
In his prepared remarks, Shultz stressed that as Secretary of State, he would work for peace in the Middle East that would include a self-governing Lebanon, increased U.S. friendship with Arab countries, support for the security of Israel and an effort to provide for the aspirations of the Palestinian people.
He said that “the challenge of the negotiations” under the Camp David framework, is to go ahead with the autonomy talks. “For these talks to succeed, representatives of the Palestinians themselves must participate in the negotiating process.” He said later that the representative did not necessarily have to be the PLO.
COMMITTED TO ISRAEL’S SECURITY
In this connection, Shultz stressed his commitment to the U.S. position not to deal with the PLO until they recognize Israel’s right to exist and until they accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and he added, “particularly if they get off this guerrilla kick.”
Speaking of Israel, Shultz noted that the “rightness” of Israel’s preoccupation with matters of security cannot be disputed because of the hostilities that have been directed against the Jewish State. He said he shares the “deep and enduring commitment” of the U.S. to the security of Israel and to ensure Israel that it has the “necessary means to defend herself.”
He added that at the same time, “we owe it to Israel in the context of our special relationship, to work with her to bring about a comprehensive peace — acceptable to all the parties involved–which is the only sure guarantee of true and durable security.”
The hearing, which continued this afternoon after nearly four hours of testimony this morning, is expected to be concluded tomorrow. At the outset of the hearing today. Sen. Majority Leader Howard Baker (R. Tenn.), a Committee member, urged Senate approval “as promptly as possible” to fill the vacuum at the State Department left by the resignation of Alexander Haig last month.
RELATIONS WITH BECHTEL FIRM
In his testimony today, Shultz, president of the Bechtel Group, a giant San Francisco-based construction and engineering firm, said that if confirmed, he will end all legal and economic relations with Bechtel.
Shultz, who is being represented by attorney Lloyd Cutler, who was President Carter’s counsel, said that he will also sign a statement removing him from any “particular matter” that might come up that would involve Bechtel.
Shultz ignored an opportunity given him by Sen. Joseph Biden (D. Del.) to say that he would not rejoin Bechtel after he left office. Instead, he replied, that he has enough money so he would not have to go to work and also has tenure as a professor at Stanford University.
Shultz said that although Bechtel had lobbied against anti-boycott laws, it was a member of the Business Roundtable which worked out with the Jewish groups the basis of what became the anti-boycott law of the provision of the Export Administration Act. He said he believes it is a “good law” and it has contributed a reasonable solution to a complicated problem. He noted that at a time when Bechtel complied with the Arab boycott position, there was no U.S. position then.