JERUSALEM (Jun. 29)
Defense Minister Moshe Arens today charged the Palestine Liberation Organization with using the eight Israeli soldiers captured during the war in Lebanon for the purpose of waging a campaign of “cruel psychological warfare.” He also charged the Hadash Communist Party of collaborating with the PLO in this effort.
Arens addressed the Knesset in response to a motion by Hadash MK Meir Wilner who charged the Israeli government with mistreating prisoners at the Al-Ansar camp in south Lebanon where several thousand suspected Palestinian terrorists are being held. Wilner described Al Ansar as a “concentration camp,” that represented “a black spot in the Lebanon war which will take years, perhaps ages, to ease.”
The Israeli Defense Minister rejected the charges by Wilner, saying that the camp was regularly visited by officials of the Red Cross. Arens maintained that if only a small percentage of Wilner’s charges were true, the International Committee of the Red Cross would have complained about it. He also indicated that Israel was doing its utmost to secure the release of the Israeli soldiers.
ISRAEL READY TO NEGOTIATE
Arens indirectly reiterated that Israel was ready to negotiate with the PLO for release of the prisoners. Besides the eight soldiers held by the PLO, the Syrians are said to be holding five soldiers and the body of one soldier. Another five soldiers were reported to have been taken captive, but their fate is unknown and they are considered missing.
When Arens asked that the Knesset strike the Hadash motion off the agenda. Labor MK Aharon Harel surprisingly moved to pass the motion “because of its importance” to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee. But Harel’s move caused anger from the Likud coalition and also from fellow alignment members.
“Once again you cooperate with Rakah,” one unidentified MK said, apparently referring to a Hadash non-confidence motion submitted last week regarding the doctor’s strike at which time the Labor Alignment voted for the motion. The motion was easily defeated last week. But the Hadash motion today was struck off the agenda when four Alignment members–Raanan Naim, Jacque Amir. Yitzhak Peretz and Tamar Eshel — voted with the Likud.