JERUSALEM (Feb. 23)
Israel had no official reaction today to President Reagan’s pledge that the U.S. will guarantee the security of northern Israel once the Israeli army withdraws from Lebanon But analysts here indicated that the offer was irrelevant to Israel’s security needs which is to prevent the return of Palestinian terrorists to south Lebanon.
They insisted that only an agreement between Israel and Lebanon could provide the means and motivation to ensure Israel’s security in the north. That position was reportedly stressed by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir at a meeting with U.S. special envoy Philip Habib today.
Shamir, in a radio interview here yesterday only hours after Reagan promised the guarantee in a speech to the American Legion conference in Washington, appeared to reject it. “We are not asking for American guarantees,” the Foreign Minister said
“We don’t think the presence of foreign forces, multinational forces or international could be helpful. It is not for them to enable us to be assured that the PLO will not come back to the frontier. They will not fight against them,” Shamir said. He said “with all due respect, these forces are not built for war against terrorist organizations. The only parties who have the motivation to do it are Lebanon and Israel.”
GUARANTEES CAN’T REPLACE ACCORD
Shamir added that “American guarantees could be helpful, but they couldn’t replace an agreement between us and Lebanon.” The Foreign Ministry’s press spokesman, Avi Pazner, amplified on that when he said Israel would welcome an American guarantee “on top of a good agreement with Lebanon” but not as a substitute for one.
Other sources here suggested today that Reagan’s offer might strengthen Israel’s disenchantment with the lack of American pressure on the Lebanese and Syrians to take specific measures in the direction of Israel’s security demands. There is, in fact, a basic difference between the Israeli and American approaches to the abandon situation.
Israel insists or binding agreement with Lebanon, if not a full fledged peace treaty at this time, and on specific security measures in south Lebanon including the presence of Israeli surveillance forces there after the bulk of the Israel army pulls out. The U.S. position is that such demands are untimely, that they would compromise Lebanon’s sovereignty and discourage the Syrians from pulling their forces out of eastern Lebanon.