WASHINGTON (Aug. 5)
Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens denied last night that Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir had “snubbed” President Reagan by refusing to stay in Washington to receive a message from him yesterday.
Appearing on ABC-TV’s “Nightline” program, Arens said he could easily “debunk” the news reports about the alleged snub. He said he was in Shamir’s hotel room here yesterday morning when Secretary of State George Shultz telephoned and asked that either Shamir or Arens remain in Washington since the Administration might have a message for Israel later in the day.
Arens said that since Shamir had several appointments in New York he stayed in Washington and received the letter that Reagan sent Israeli Premier Menachem Begin urging that the ceasefire be maintained in west Beirut.
The Ambassador said he did not “read” the letter as threatening sanctions on Israel if it continues its military pressure on the Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists. He said for the U.S. to take sanctions against Israel would not only harm its strongest ally in the Middle East, but U.S. interests.
But Arens stressed that Israel would not bow to U.S. pressure if it were exerted. In Lebanon, Israel is “sacrificing its most valuable asset — its sons — for what it considers to be its security interests. So you can be sure that Israel would be ready to sacrifice economic assets if it came to that,” the Ambassador said.
Arens stressed that the PLO will be willing to negotiate its withdrawal from Lebanon “only under direct and imminent threat of military action.” He noted that “the PLO is certainly not eager to get out of west Beirut” because in whatever country they go to they will not have the “kind of facilities for practicing terrorism they had in Beirut.”