JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
In an official government response to the election in Beirut today of Bashir Gemayel, the 34-year old Christian Maronite leader, as the next president of Lebanon, Israel wished him success in his efforts to reestablish Lebanese sovereignty and independence.
“We are happy that the Lebanese people have taken the right path electing their new President in a democratic procedure,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. “We wish Gemayel:the best success in fulfilling his mission and hope that under his leadership Lebanon will once again become united, independent and free.”
Premier Menachem Begin sent Gemayel “warmest wishes from my heart” on his election as President. Referring to Lebanon’s new leader as “my dear friend,” Begin stated in a telegram: “May God be with you … in the fulfillment of your grave historic mission for the liberty and independence of Lebanon.”
Gemayel, the only Presidential candidate to emerge from the many diverse religious factions of Lebanon, received 58 of the 62 votes in the Lebanese Parliament.
Three votes were cost against Gemayel while one Deputy abstained. The 62 Deputies who participated formed the bare minimum necessary for a quorum. Moslem and leftist Lebanese leaders boycotted the election. They consider Gemayel a “collaborator” with Israel because his Phalangist Party’s military force received aid from Israel prior to the “Peace for Galilee” action Israel launched last June 6. Gemayel will succeed Elias Sarkis on September 23 for a six-year term as President.
JOY AND BOMBINGS
Immediately after the vote was announced, the eastern sector of Beirut, which is controlled by the Phalangist militia, burst into a wave of joy, with gun firings heard throughout the city, cars blasting their horns, and people shouting and weeping with joy.
Several hours after Gemayel was elected the homes of two members of Parliament were hit by anti-tank rockets. The houses of Fuod Lahoud, a Maronite Christian, and Osmon Dana, a Moslem, are situated in the predominately Moslem section of west Beirut.
Gemayel, in an interview with the Voice of Israel Radio said: “It is a big achievement for our democracy, its a great day. I hope that what we achieved until now —- to reunite the country and to free the country will continue — and sovereignty would be reinstituted.”
Gemayel would not be specific on future relations with Israel but said, “We will have a new government, and this government will decide about all the steps to be taken concerning the outside world.”
OUTLINES VIEW OF LEBANON’S FUTURE
Meanwhile, in Washington, Gemayel said in an article in the Washington Post that the tripartite occupation of Lebanon by Israel’, Syria and the PLO must cease and that a “strong independent and prosperous Lebanon is undoubtedly the best security guarantee for all.”
In an op-ed page article published today in the Past, Gemayel said Lebanon must return to “its traditional pluralism, so our regional relations must also assume a character befitting relations between sovereign countries. For too long have the neighbors of Lebanon and the other regional powers treated our country as a playground for their games of intrigue and violence. Too long have we permitted seditious behavior directly funded by other governments who send men, weapons and money in our midst.”
Gemayel issued several guidelines that should be followed in the days ahead if Lebanon is to pursue a new “destiny.” He said these include:
Any solution to the Lebanese crisis must include the recovery of Lebanese sovereignty over; its entire territory and the restoration to the Lebanese state of its full powers.
*Israel and Syrian forces must depart from Lebanon and a Lebanese army must emerge strong enough preserve the territorial integrity of Lebanon.
* All Palestinians continuing to reside in Lebanon must submit to and respect the authority of the Lebanese government in Lebanon.