JERUSALEM (Aug. 15)
Premier Menachem Begin denounced the killing of three Palestinian Arab students and the wounding of 33 by masked gunmen in Hebron last month as a crime “which we not only regret, but if we shall find out who did this evil thing to our neighbors, no doubt he will be brought to court, whoever he is, of course.”
Begin, who was addressing a dinner in honor of the 35th anniversary international conference of Israel Bonds, told the 500 Bond leaders, “We want to live with our neighbors in mutual respect and peace.” He declared that “the crime perpetrated against an Arab inhabitant is a crime” and warned that there must be due process of law.
Focussing on the agreement Israel and Lebanon signed last May, but which Lebanon has still not ratified, Begin said “it is clear” to the United States that Syria is responsible for stopping “the peaceful solution from coming into being.”
He noted that because Syria refused to recognize the agreement “we had to make the decision to redeploy our forces, to defend our men who are defending the Galilee. ” Syria was reported last week to be beefing up its tank positions in the Bekaa valley and saturating the area with minefields.
REITERATES SUPPORT FOR CAMP DAVID ACCORDS
Begin reiterated Israel’s support of the Camp David agreements with Egypt and Israel’s commitment to implement them. “As an international agreement, we should all be faithful to it,” he said. “We negotiated in good faith, but those negotiations have not been disrupted by us … We are prepared to do our share to reach a peaceful solution. Now somebody else should be told to follow the peaceful example of Israel.”
In this same spirit, Begin reaffirmed Israel’s invitation to King Hussein of Jordan to “join immediately the autonomy negotiations” regarding Judaea and Samaria within the context of the Camp David accords.
The spirited Premier, who appeared to have regained some of his strength and buoyancy, was greeted by the 500 Israel Bond leaders with a standing ovation and a chant of “happy birthday” in honor of his 70th birthday which was marked last month. He appealed to the assembled leaders “to help develop the economy of Israel, especially in this time of great difficulty.”
Begin, in thanking the delegates for their assistance to Israel, declared: “Our people have suffered greatly and made many sacrifices in defending Israel. Why? Because Israel is a just cause …. When you meet friends, tell them so. A just cause will always win the game.”
At the conclusion of the dinner, 70 of the 500 Bond leaders present pledged between $25,000 to $1 million in Bond purchases.