JERUSALEM (Jun. 23)
Defense Minister Moshe Arens said today that Israel does not intend to use force to get Syrian troops out of Lebanon but relies hopefully on the diplomatic process. He warned however, in an address to the the Jewish Agency’s annual Assembly here this morning, that Israel would have no choice but to take military action again in a few years if a situation existed such as the one that prompted its invasion of Lebanon in June, 1982.
Arens was sharply critical of Egypt which called home its Ambassador in Tel Aviv when the Lebanesewar broke out and has still not returned the envoy to his post. He also expressed concern over the large scale military aid Egypt was receiving from the U.S.
With respect to Israel’s present situation in Lebanon, Arens said that if Israeli forces were withdrawn unilaterally, the battlefield would again be on Israel’s northern border, not the present line 40-50 kilometers north of the border. “We can’t pull out of Lebanon and leave Syria there,” he said. “The burden of maintaining present positions must be shared. Lebanon and the multi-national peacekeeping force must do their part.”
NO SYRIAN VETO
Declaring that “The Syrians don’t have a veto on the Lebanon-Israel agreement,” Arens noted that it “has been signed and ratified by both countries, though Syria has done all that it can to harm its success. Furthermore,” he continued, “it is not our intention to use military force to get the Syrians out of the area. We hope political pressures will be applied on Syria to leave Lebanon.”
Arens contended that the very significant Soviet involvement in Syria is a desperate attempt on the part of Moscow to prevent the loss of its influence in the Middle East. Most of Syria’s war losses have been replaced by the Soviets, he said and paid for by Saudi Arabia. He stressed that Israel would do everything in its power to avoid hostilities. But if war does break out, there might be a Soviet physical involvement, the defense chief said.
Arens said the recall of Egypt’s Ambassador to Israel was “a blatant violation” of the peace treaty with respect to normalization between the two countries. “We feel it is essential that Egypt meet its commitment, including relations on an Ambassadorial level,” he said.
Arens noted that Egypt was modernizing its armed forces on an unprecedented scale and referred to the $1.7 billion in U.S. military aid that Egypt is receiving. “We are concerned that this aid will not ever be turned against us. We know though, that nothing is 100 percent sure in this world,” Arens said.
The Assembly, which winds up tonight, announced new elections and appointments. Max Fisher of Detroit, who has served as chairman of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors since 1971, is retiring. He has been succeeded by Jerold Hoffberger of Baltimore. Fisher has been named chairman of the new committee to implement the “Caesaria Process,” the program adopted by the Jewish Agency at Caesaria three years ago.
Leon Dulzin was elected chairman of the Jewish Agency Assembly. Akiva Lewinsky was elected treasurer and Harry Rosen was elected secretary. The membership of the Board of Governors was increased to 72.