Menu JTA Search

Dam Says U.S. Will Not Allow Lebanon to Be Destroyed for Signing an Accord with Israel

Deputy Secretary of State Kenneth Dam declared tonight that the U.S. will not allow the government of Lebanon to be destroyed for signing its agreement with Israel.

“Lebanon is under attack for having signed an agreement with Israel,” Dam said in a speech prepared for delivery at the annual meeting of the national executive council of the American Jewish Committee in Philadelphia.

“The U.S. will not accept the proposition that to enter into an agreement with Israel means political destruction. Nor will we accept the proposition that an external state has a veto power over the aspirations of a sovereign people or the policies of their government.” The State Department official was referring to the Israel-Lebanon withdrawal and security agreement signed last May 17.

Noting that the “tragedy in Beirut casts a shadow over this gathering, and indeed over our country,” Dam stressed that the killing of more than 200 U.S. marines in a terrorist bomb attack in Beirut will not cause the U.S. to “abdicate the responsibility” it has to work for peace in the Middle East.

“In the ongoing struggle between reason and radicalism in the Middle East, it is in our moral, strategic and diplomatic interests to throw our influence behind the forces of moderation,” Dam said.

“Let it therefore be known that we will not be deterred by cowardly acts of violence. Let it be proved that peace cannot be killed by killing the peace-makers.”

In addition to stressing U.S. determination to remain in Lebanon, Dam said that the U.S. still believes that President Reagan’s peace initiative of September 1, 1982 is “the most practicable and workable basis for negotiations” to “bring about a just and lasting peace that will both recognize the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people and at the same time assure the security of Israel.”

SAYS U.S., ISRAEL HAVE IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

He said that while Israel and the U.S. agree on most issues in the Middle East, the two countries do have important differences, particularly over Israel’s settlement policies. “Nothing in the President’s initiative precludes Israelis from living in the West Bank and Gaza,” Dam said. “However, as the President has said, we do not believe that continued settlement activity is helpful in getting peace negotiations started.”

He added that the U.S. also believes that “permanent Israeli control over these areas will not bring peace nor will it guarantee Israel’s long term security.”

Dan stressed that Israel and the U.S. “must seek to reconcile our differences and reinforce our agreements.” He noted that Lawrence Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, will be going to Israel next week to continue the “strategic dialogue” as part of the ongoing process between Israel and the U.S. to strengthen their alliance.

NEXT STORY