TEL AVIV (Dec. 15)
Defense Minister Ariel Sharon blamed the United States for the impasse in negotiations between Israel and Lebanon.
Addressing a gathering of West Bank settlers yesterday, Sharon contended that while the U.S. and Israel had “identical interests.” Washington was hindering the peace process by linking the Lebanon problem with implementation of President Reagan’s plan for the West Bank. The Reagan plan, announced last. September 1, called for a Palestinian entity associated with Jordan and urged Israel to freeze its West Bank settlement activities.
Sharon for his part, urged massive Jewish settlement in the territory, especially in the mountainous areas where the bulk of the Arab population is concentrated. He stressed that the West Bank would not be annexed to Israel but intimated that it would not be necessary. If the rate of settlement is increased “by the end of the decade tens of thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers will live here,” he said.
According to Sharon, Israel and Lebanon are close to an agreement on security problems. But these as well as the question of a peace agreement and normal relations can only be solved by direct negotiations between the two countries, he said. He believed however, that shuttle diplomacy with the U.S. acting as go-betweens, could achieve the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.