JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Israel will launch a new peace offensive immediately after all the terrorists and Syrian forces withdraw from Lebanon, Cabinet Secretary Dan Meridor announced today following the weekly Cabinet session. But Meridor made it clear that while the government of Israel “will initiate action for the establishment of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East” it will do so “in accordance with the Camp David accords.”
In reference to voices heard both in Europe and the United States in favor on an early solution of the Palestinian problem, Meridor declared: “There will be no negotiations on any proposal whatsoever which deviates from the framework of peace as established in Camp David.”
His statement, presumably echoing the view of the Cabinet, followed a series of reports from Washington over the weekend that the Reagan Administration was working on extending the dimension of the Camp David accords and the expectation that West European governments would also reinitiate their Mideast peace efforts.
FRANCO-EGYPTIAN PLAN UNDER DISCUSSION
(In Paris, Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Boutros Ghali, is scheduled to hold talks tomorrow with Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson. They are expected to discuss the situation in Lebanon and a Franco-Egyptian peace plan for Lebanon which is now being reviewed by the United Nations Security Council.
(The government of President Francois Mitterrand is seeking to play, as Mitterrand said last week in his television address, an even-handed role in the Mideast. He underlined this when he stated: “The Israeli policy of France should not be anti-Arab, and the Arab policy of France should not be anti-Israeli.”)
A TROUBLESOME STATEMENT FROM WASHINGTON
One of the more troublesome statements to emerge from Washington was that by Secretary of State George Shultz, political analysts said here today. Shultz told a news conference Friday, his first since being named Secretary of State, the Camp David accords had “lots of room for ideas” and that the Reagan Administration was forming its own views. He said the Administration expected to be moving on the issue of Palestinian rights, but he did not elaborate. (See separate story from Washington.)
MUBARAK RAPS ISRAEL
(President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt also zeroed in on the Camp David accords, saying that Israel “is maintaining a narrow and unbelievably restricted interpretation of the provisions of the ‘framework’.”
(Writing on the op-ed page of today’s Washington Past, Mubarak said three steps needed to be implemented to reach a long-term settlement of the Palestinian question: the U.S. should recognize the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination; all settlement activities in the occupied territories must halt; and “certain confidence-building measures” must be taken to “restore the trust of the Palestinian inhabitants on the West Bank and Gaza.”
(He wrote that the “conversion of Arab land into Israeli settlements is causing a steady erosion of good will and hope” and called on the Palestinians and Israelis to mutually and simultaneously recognize each other. Shultz, in his press conference Friday, also stated, in response to a question, that settlements in the occupied areas were “not constructive” to a comprehensive peace in the Mideast.”)
At today’s Cabinet meeting, Premier Menachem Begin told the ministers that the Cabinet would begin a review of the entire “Peace for Galilee” operation and that he would address the Knesset on this issue. Following that, Israel would launch its new peace initiative.
CEASE-FIRE VIOLATIONS MUST END
Meanwhile, Meridor said Israel was demanding the immediate end of cease-fire violations from behind the Syrian-held territories in Lebanon. He noted that Israel did its best to enable the evacuation of the terrorists from west Beirut to proceed smoothly and emphasized that Israel made it “very clear” to the Americans, and through them to the Syrians, “that the violations … should cease immediately.”
While the Beirut area is quiet, PLO forces hiding between the Syrian lines on the eastern sector of the front continued to snipe and harass Israeli troops. An Israeli soldier wounded in an exchange of fire over the weekend died of his wounds this morning, an army spokesman said. Three terrorists were killed in the exchange and others were routed as they tried to infiltrate into Israeli-held territory.
Syrian forces in Lebanon, including in the Bekaa valley, where they face Israeli forces, are estimated at 30,000, including several thousand Palestinian terrorists. The Israeli and Syrian armies face each other along a 50-mile line about 12 miles east of Beirut, on the Beirut-Damascus highway, to the eastern side of the Bekaa valley, about five miles from the Syrian border.