Israelis Dismayed by Gemayel’s Speeches at the United Nations
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Israelis Dismayed by Gemayel’s Speeches at the United Nations

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Government officials are frankly dismayed by the speeches delivered by Lebanese President Amin Gemayel at the United Nations yesterday, first to the General Assembly and later to the Security Council.

The Israelis appeared taken aback by Gemayel’s assertion that the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon was the first prerequisite of peace in his country, his endorsement of Palestinian self-determination “in their land, Palestine,” and his warning that “the Israeli-Palestinian war” was threatening the 1949 armistice between Israel and Lebanon.

Officials here expressed hope that Gemayel’s remarks were intended for home consumption and for the Arab world. Some saw the speeches as a means of cajoling Syria into respecting Lebanon’s independence. But it was noted that while in the past Gemayel went out of his way to recognize Israel’s security needs in Lebanon, he offered no such recognition in his UN speeches. According to officials here, Israel helped restore Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence but is being repaid with “ingratitude by Gemayel.”

Israel was also wrankled by Gemayel’s appeal that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) remain there for the time being. The Security Council subsequently voted to extend the UNIFIL mandate for another three months.

Israel has made it clear that it does not regard UNIFIL as capable of preventing terrorist infiltration of south Lebanon and wants the Lebanese army to take over security responsibility in that region on terms to be worked out in negotiations with Israel.


Israel’s disappointment with Gemayel stemmed, in part, from his assertion to the Security Council that “The withdrawal of Israeli forces constitutes the fundamental objective called for by your resolutions. This objective must be achieved.” He was referring to the repeated resolutions by the Security Council during the Lebanese war last summer that Israeli forces leave the country. They were ignored by Israel.

Gemayel also said that “Lebanon similarly awaits the simultaneous withdrawal of all non-Lebanese forces existing within its territory. ” But he referred by name only to Israeli forces, implying that their presence was the chief obstacle to the restoration of peace in Lebanon.

Gemayel observed that the Security Council’s resolutions, adopted with “such wonderful unanimity,” had not resulted in “the liberation of Lebanon, and they did not put an end to the continuing and recurrent invasions.” The latter appeared to be a veiled reference to Israel’s occupation of south Lebanon for several months in 1978 and the frequent incursions of Israeli troops into Lebanon in pursuit of Palestinian terrorists since then.

Gemayel barely mentioned Israel in his 20-minute speech to the General Assembly. But Jerusalem was clearly unhappy with his statement “As we wish to live in peace and freedom in our land, so should the Palestinians live in peace and freedom and self-determination in their land, Palestine.”

The opposition Labor Party declared today that Gemayel’s comments at the UN should prompt the government “to wake up from its hallucinations” and return to the “national objectives” which have guided Israel’s security policy since the establishment of the State.

The Laborites said it was now clear “beyond any doubt” that those who sent the Israeli army to war with the hope of changing the political map and achieving peace with Lebanon have “made a terrible mistake.”

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