WASHINGTON (Sep. 7)
The State Department said today that the Reagan Administration would put “proper pressure” on Israel to support President Reagan’s peace initiative but has ruled out sanctions. Department spokesman John Hughes defined “proper pressure” as “persuasion” and “drawing attention to the great benefits that will ensue for Israel making peace with its neighbors.”
He said the U.S. hopes Israel will eventually agree when it realizes that “the end result is so rewarding” for its security.
The Administration indicated that it does not consider what it called Israel’s “initial” rejection of Reagan’s proposals as Israel’s final word. “No one expected this would be an easy road to travel,” Hughes said. There will to be “a lot of hard negotiations.”
RULES OUT SANCTIONS
Hughes stressed that Secretary of State George Shultz has ruled out “sanctions” against Israel such as withholding military and economic aid. A State Department official said later that the U.S. also ruled out sanctions against Israel for continuing to build Jewish settlements on the West Bank, despite Reagan’s statement that they were not helpful to the peace process. The official said that in both cases, sanctions would do no good because they would not achieve the desired results.
Hughes said the U.S. wants the autonomy negotiations to resume as quickly as possible. He said at the same time the Administration felt it needed the “injection of new elements,” one of which was the President’s peace initiative.
But he emphasized that there should be no direct link between the autonomy talks and events in Lebanon. He also called for a speedy Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon regardless of whether the two countries agree to sign a peace treaty.
“We support the return to civilian government in Lebanon and the withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces as speedily as possible,” the State Department spokesman said. He said the U.S. also favored a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon, “a real peace treaty negotiated by governments that are happy with the negotiations”., but this should not be related to the withdrawal of Israeli forces.
At the same time, Hughes said, the U.S. believes that there is “room for discussion” about the security arrangements for Israel in southern Lebanon He said that whether this would involve Maj. Saad Haddad’s militia would have to be worked out with the Lebanese government.
Hughes said the U.S. “deplores” the kidnapping of eight Israeli soldiers in Lebanon, reportedly by the PLO. He said it was not “conducive to the peace process” and “underlines” the need for “reconciliation” in Lebanon and the return to a strong central government there. Hughes repeated Shultz’s statement in a television appearance Sunday that the PLO forces still in Lebanon must either turn in their arms and accept the authority of the Lebanese government or leave that country.