TEL AVIV (Jul. 15)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon warned the Palestine Liberation Organization today that Israel holds the upper hand around Beirut and would set the terms for the PLO’s withdrawal. He said the fact that Israel is allowing time to negotiate a peaceful solution should not be taken “as a sign of weakness.”
Addressing Air Force Day ceremonies at an air base in southern Israel, Sharon declared “Israel’s air sword and the swords of its other army formations have not yet been returned to their scabbards. We prefer to give peaceful negotiations a chance” but “our patience is not without end. Let our enemies remember who is encircling west Beirut, who is besieging the city,” Sharon said.
The Defense Minister responded to criticism of Israel’s massive bombardment of Lebanese cities by observing that other “so-called enlightened nations,” including France, Britain, the United States and even the Soviet Union “carried out indiscriminate bombing of civilian centers.” By contrast, he claimed, Israeli pilots went “out of their way to ensure that only military targets were hit.”