WASHINGTON (Aug. 2)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir emerged from a meeting with President Reagan this morning maintaining that Israel and the United States, as well as the government of Lebanon, share a “common goal” to end the domination of Lebanon by the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Syrian army.
“We have to reach this goal as soon as possible,” Shamir told reporters after the nearly half-hour meeting. But he would not say whether Reagan had been “firm” with him about maintaining the cease-fire, as the President said yesterday he would be.
But a White House statement issued shortly after the meeting said the “President stressed the need for a complete end by all parties to the hostilities in and around Beirut as a prerequisite” to enable Reagan’s special envoy, Philip Habib, to complete his “urgent work.” The statement declared: “The world can no longer accept a situation of constantly escalating violence.”
Reagan told reporters at the White House yesterday, following Israel’s 14-hour bombardment of Beirut and the cease-fire which ensued, “I think it’s absolutely imperative that this cease-fire at this stage of the negotiations must not be violated by anyone.” Although he did not criticze Israel for its bombardment, the President appeared upset at the latest breakdown of the cease-fire. “I last patience a long time ago,” he said.
DIPLOMATIC SETTLEMENT IS STRESSED
However, Shamir stressed to reporters today that Israel has always wanted to maintain the cease-fire but it must be an “absolute and mutual cease-fire, not a one sided cease-fire. “He said the PLO has taken advantage of the cease-fire by “killing and wounding our soldiers.”
The Israeli official said that his country wants a diplomatic solution. But the PLO will not leave west Beirut until it has decided that it has only one choice, either negotiating “or by other means.” Shamir said there is no deadline but that the situation cannot last forever.
Both Shamirs and Reagan’s statements stressed that an early diplomatic settlement is necessary in order to go on with the task of helping Lebanon as well as achieving a broader peace in the Middle East. “Progress will be made when we will see the PLO leave Lebanon,” Shamir said.
He also said that an early PLO departure is needed to end the “suffering” of the Lebanese people. The White House statement noted “the President highlighted the humanitarian needs of the large civilian population of west Beirut with emphasis on the need to maintain essential services and to assure adequate supplies of food and medicine.” Presumably, this was aimed at the Israeli blockade of west Beirut.
Meanwhile, last Friday, Sen. Charles Percy (R. III.) chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the seizure by the PLO of the warehouse housing food controlled by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and he called upon the PLO to release the warehouse “immediately.”
He said the PLO has been blocking food from the warehouse since July 5 and seized the warehouse on July 19. He said the seizure by the PLO means that UNRWA is not only unable to distribute food to west Beirut but cannot distribute food from the warehouse that is earmarked for south Lebanon. Percy noted that Israel has been “criticized for restricting food supplies. Now we find it is being done by the PLO. This is deplorable.”
Meanwhile, Shamir was scheduled to meet later today with Secretary of State George Shultz at the State Department and with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger at the Defense Department. (Separate story, P.3.) The Foreign Minister is to meet with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Wednesday in New York.