WASHINGTON (Aug. 5)
A delegation of Jewish leaders were told by Administration officials today that President Reagan has not considered sanctions against Israel because of Israel’s military action against the Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists in west Beirut.
“Until now, the President has not considered sanctions,” Julius Berman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said the Jewish leaders were told during three hours of briefings at the State Department.
When Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger who was one of the officials conducting the briefings, was asked about sanctions as he was leaving the State Department, he said that discussion about this should come from the President and the State Department.
In addition to Weinberger, the briefings were conducted by Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz and members of the National Security Council. The more than 30 Jewish leaders who attended were mostly members of the Presidents Conference and several members of the National Jewish Republican Coalition.
Berman told reporters after the meeting that both Israel and the Reagan Administration agree on the goals of establishing a sovereign government in Lebanon and of removing the PLO from the country, but they differ an the “tactics.”
WARY OF A SIGNAL
However, Berman noted that “what we are wary about is that there should not be a signal coming out of Washington which might indicate to the PLO that there is a major grace period and maybe if they stick it out,” there will be “handcuffs,” placed on Israel and there will not be a diplomatic solution because there will not be military pressure.
But, he added, in his opinion, the Administration “realizes military pressure is necessary. They say so. As to the specific military pressure and the timing of this, there is obviously a difference of opinion.”
DENIES U.S. COOLNESS TOWARDS ISRAELIS
Berman said that the Administration spokesmen denied that an effort was made during the picture-taking ceremony when Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir met with Reagan at the White House Monday, to demonstrate a United States cold attitude toward the Israelis, as had been reported in the press.
Berman said the Jewish leaders were told that the seating arrangements in which Shamir and his party sat directly across the table from Reagan and his advisors was a normal one when foreign visitors come to the White House.
Berman noted that during the briefings, not only Lebanon but the entire Administration policy toward the Mideast was discussed. He said the Administration officials restated the U.S. position that it will not recognize or negotiate with the PLO until it meets the conditions outlined by the United States since 1975. He said the officials also stressed that Reagan is committed to ending terrorism wherever it exists.”
Calling the Jewish leaders “good Americans,” Bush said while they had differences with the Administration, they were willing to listen to his outlining of the President’s position.
Both the governments of Israel and the United States “want a diplomatic solution,” Berman said. “They both realize that without military pressure, there will be no diplomatic solution. Otherwise, there is no incentive for the PLO to leave Lebanon.”
OPTIMISM ABOUT HABIB’S EFFORTS
But Berman noted that the Administration feels there should be a “pause” now in military pressure. He said the Administration spokesmen said they were “more optimistic” than they were a week ago that Reagan’s special envoy, Philip Habib, will be successful in his efforts to negotiate the PLO departure.
This Administration position was confirmed by both Bush and Weinberger as they left the State Department. Both said they believed that a diplomatic solution would be achieved without any more military pressure.
Bush said he emphasized that “given the status quo in Lebanon, the PLO must withdraw, they must withdraw promptly.” He said Habib is “working hard” on the problem of finding them a place to go.
Bush stressed that the Administration believes, “this should happen with no more loss of innocent human life. We believe this goal can be accomplished if our various friends will be supportive, if various countries around the world will be supportive, of what the President is trying to do.”