TEL AVIV (Dec. 21)
Ambassador Samuel Lewis of the United States has denied reports that Washington has tried to block progress on an Israel Lebanon peace agreement in order to promote President Reagan’s Middle East peace plan. Aides and officials close to Defense Minister Ariel Sharon are among those who have made such allegations.
Speaking to the British Commonwealth Association here last night Lewis said: “There has been a very strange allegation in the press that because there is also on the table a comprehensive initiative for peace between Israel and its neighbors that we don’t want to see anything concluded with Lebanon until everything can be wrapped up in one big package called the Reagan initiative.
“In fact, our view has been exactly the opposite, and it has been well stated publicly and privately many times to Israeli officials and to journalists. Our view has been that there was indeed a need to get on quickly with the business of helping Lebanon solidify its own sovereignty and get all the foreign forces — PLO, Syrian and Israeli — out of Lebanon as quickly as possible so that one could begin to address the completion of the Camp David process and take advantage of some changes in the political forces in the region occasioned by Israel’s victories in Lebanon last summer.”