WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir has urged American Jews not to allow debate over President Reagan’s Middle East peace initiative undermine their support for Israel.
Speaking to several hundred members of the Washington area’s Jewish community at the Israeli Embassy last Friday, Shamir warned against the creation among Jewish people of “a climate of internal dispute and debate which would undermine the support of world Jewry” for Israel. He said Jews throughout the world have always supported Israel regardless of the policies of whatever particular government was in office at the time.
Shamir said Reagan’s initiative has the potential to cause disputes not only within the Jewish community but also within Israel itself, between Israel and the U.S. and within the Arab world. He called for a return to the “step-by-step approach” of the Camp David agreement which, he said, is the best way to reach a solution not only for the West Bank and Gaza but also for Middle East peace.
Asked why Israel continued to build settlements on the West Bank, Shamir replied that if it’s stopped, it would be accepting the American position that the territory should be under Arab control.
Shamir spoke at the Embassy just before his second meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz. While they discussed the Reagan peace initiative, most of their talks, called “consultations” by the State Department, centered on the withdrawal of Israeli, Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces from Lebanon.
U.S. AND ISRAEL’S POSITIONS
Israel wants security in south Lebanon worked out between itself and the Lebanese government with the Lebanese army eventually having responsibility for security in the area. The Israelis opposed the use of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) which now has some 7,000 troops in the area.
State Department spokesman John Hughes said the U.S. has on “acute interest” in south Lebanon and, like Israel, wants to see that area not used again “as a launching pad for terrorist attacks on Israel.” But he refused to give any details of the meetings between Shultz and Shamir.
However, late last week the possibility emerged of a multinational force similar to the one now in Beirut being used to maintain security in south Lebanon. It was not clear whether such a force would have U.S. marines and French and Italian troops, as is the case now in Beirut, or whether it would be made up of troops from other countries.
White House Counsellor Edwin Meese III, appearing on the CBS-TV “Face the Nation” program today, reiterated that the marines are in Lebanon for a “very limited duration” although he would not give a time limit for their withdrawal. He added that there were no plans for U.S. forces to be deployed in south Lebanon.
The situation will get a further airing Tuesday when President Amin Gemayel of Lebanon meets with President Reagan and other Administration officials here.