PARIS (Sep. 21)
Western Europe reacted with shock and horror at the massacre of Palestinian refugees in the camps of Sabra and Shatila near Beirut. The European Economic Community (EEC) called for the “immediate” withdrawal of all Israeli forces from Beirut and an eventual withdrawal in the “near future” from all of Lebanon as well.
The Foreign Ministers of the 10 member-states, who met in Brussels yesterday, approved of President Reagan’s Middle East peace proposals which he enunciated September 1 but said the PLO should be associated with any future Mideast peace negotiations. The EEC had defined the PLO’s role in similar fashion in a resolution it adopted in Venice in June, 1980.
MULTINATIONAL FORCE RETURNING TO LEBANON
While the EEC ministers were meeting yesterday, government officials in Rome and Paris said troops have been placed on the alert and are ready to return to Beirut at a few hours notice. A contingent of French paratroopers left today for Lebanon. President Francois Mitterrand said in a television address that the French units would be ready to take up positions in Beirut within three days.
France and Italy had been part, along with the United States, of the multinational force which supervised the evacuation of PLO fighters from Lebanon’s capital last month. The force withdrew last week. Several days afterwards, gunmen entered two Palestinian refugee camps near Beirut and massacred several hundred men, women and children. Italian and American troops were also ordered back to Lebanon by their governments.
French and Italian spokesmen deplored that the multinational force was so rapidly withdrawn, and indirectly blamed Washington for the decision. French Premier Pierre Mouroy said “France wanted the force to remain in Beirut to ensure the safety of civilians there but one of the (force’s) partners was opposed.” In Rome, Premier Giovanni Spadolini made a similar statement after national legislators and the media blamed him for the speedy return of the Italian contingent.
DENUNCIATION IN VARIOUS CAPITALS
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was quoted as having said in Tokyo, where she is on official visit, that the killings of the Palestinians in the refugee camps “are unbelievable barbarism.” In Paris, Mitterrand issued a statement expressing his “horror” and calling for speedy international action to prevent a reoccurrence.
The Italian government rapped the massacre and also indirectly charged Israel with responsibility in the killings. The Spanish government also violently condemned the killings and mentioned Israeli responsibility while Greek Premier Andreas Papandreou termed the massacre “an anti-Palestinian genocide.”
In Moscow, the Soviet government for the first time ever called for Israel’s expulsion from the United Nations. Tass, the official news agency, carried a dispatch saying the Soviet government will propose that the matter be taken up by an extraordinary session of the General Assembly. The Tass dispatch said “there is no place for countries like Israel, which totally disregard international law and commitments, within the United Nations.”
Several hundred Italian students demonstrated in Rome yesterday to protest “Israel’s complicity” in the murders and some 5,000 demonstrators carried Israel’s flag through the dust in Milan.
The Federation of Jewish Students protested against the demonstrations but called for the resignation of Israeli Premier Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan. The students union said “Israel was not to blame” but said the three carried some responsibility for what had happened.
In Athens, several thousand people marched yesterday on the building where Israel’s interests are represented to protest the massacre. The march, organized by the General Confederation of Workers, began near the American Embassy where the protesters listened to speakers denounce U.S. and Israeli policies in Lebanon and the Mideast.
A strong police force guarded the building of the Israeli representation in Psychos, a few miles north of Athens. The Socialist government of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou has refused to extend full diplomatic recognition to Israel, but upgraded the PLO’s information office to diplomatic status last December.
In Paris, French writer Roger Ikor, a Goncourt Prize recipient, also called for Begin’s resignation. In an article in the French Socialist daily, Le Matin, he said “Begin has to go and go at once.” Ikor, a longstanding supporter of Israel, called on President Yitzhak Navon and the Knesset to “ask the victims’ pardon.”
Several Jewish intellectuals led by philosopher Wladimir Jankelewitz demonstrated in front of the Israel Embassy and left an appeal to Begin asking him to have Israeli troops evacuate Lebanon at the earliest.
Most French Jewish communal organizations and personalities have condemned the massacre but have avoided implying any Israeli responsibility in the crime.
Most radio, television and press commentators in West Europe blame Israel for, at least, indirect responsibility in the massacre. Television stations throughout Western Europe showed at length pictures of bloated bodies, dead children and wanton destruction, which they said had taken place in the two camps while surrounded by Israeli forces.