JERUSALEM (Aug. 2)
The Cabinet is scheduled to hold a special session at the end of the week to determine Israel’s position regarding a resolution adopted yesterday by the United Nations Security Council authorizing the Secretary General “to deploy immediately on the request of the government of Lebanon, United Nations observers to monitor the situation in and around Beirut.”
Until now Israel has been reluctant to accept such a plan, fearing that such a team at observers would serve as a buffer zone for the Palestine Liberation Organization by separating the Israel Defense Force from the terrorists. The PLO has already welcomed the Security Council resolution.
However, since Israel has agreed to give U.S. special envoy Philip Habib time to work out a solution for evacuating the PLO forces from west Beirut, it was decided here today to postpone a definite response to the Security Council resolution until Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir returns from Washington after meetings with President Reagan, Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and legislators.
FULL CABINET DEBATE SOUGHT
Before the Cabinet takes any official action, Premier Menachem Begin said he would insist on a full Cabinet debate and the presence of all the ministers at the meeting. He is apparently sensitive about having a Cabinet resolution adopted with only some of the ministers present following criticism voiced at yesterday’s Cabinet session of Defense Minister Ariel Sharon for having ordered the takeover of the Beirut airport without consulting with the ministers.
Sharon explained that the decision to take over the airport was a “local, tactical move” which did not require a Cabinet decision. He said the purpose of the action was to take over what had been, in effect, a no-man’s land, and that there was no intention to storm Beirut.
A senior political source said today that the purpose of yesterday’s pounding of terrorist targets in west Beirut by the combined Israeli land, air and sea forces was to serve as a warning to the terrorists that time was running out, that Israel would not countenance their violations of cease-fires, and not the beginning of the battle to capture Beirut.
The source said Israel was “losing its patience” with the lack of progress in getting the PLO out of Beirut. It was noted that the source happened to use the same phrase as President Reogan did last evening when he said “I lost patience a long time ago.” The President was referring to the latest breakdown of the ceasefire. It was also observed here that the U.S. was well aware that Israel was using extraordinary restraint in the face of the continued weeks-long foot-dragging by the PLO to evacuate Beirut.
GROWING DIFFERENCES BETWEEN U.S., ISRAEL
Sources here noted that there were growing differences between the U.S. and Israel over the approach to the diplomatic negotiations over the situation in Lebanon, Whereas Israel wants to speed up the negotiations by continuing the military pressure, the U.S. feels that the unstable cease-fires serve as a major obstacle to Habib’s mission.
Israel’s view is that the basic problem is getting the PLO out of Lebanon, and not the cease-fire issue, which is considered of secondary importance. Israel has made it clear in the past, and it was reiterated yesterday by Begin at the Cabinet meeting, that the cease-fire has to be total and mutual, that Israel would accept a cease-fire only on that condition.
Begin responded today to a cable Reagan sent him on the occasion of the Premier’s 69th birthday Saturday. Begin wrote: “I feel like a Premier who was authorized to command a brave army which faces Berlin in which Hitler and his associates hide in a deep subterranean bunker, among innocent people …. My generation has vowed that anybody who declares his intention to annihilate the Jewish people, his fate will be doomed. The experience of Berlin shall not repeat itself.”