JERUSALEM (Nov. 1)
The behind-the-scenes quarrel between Israel and the United States last week over America’s failure to avail itself of Israeli offers of medical aid to marines wounded in the bombing of their barracks on October 23 has now been resolved.
Top Israeli officials say they are “fully satisfied” that the U.S. decision was not taken “at the political level” and was not motivated by political considerations. A warm letter from Secretary of State George Shultz to Premier Yitzhak Shamir last Thursday, and other U.S. reassurances delivered through diplomatic channels, helped to ease Israeli resentment and suspicions.
Israeli policymakers now accept the explanation offered by Reagan Administration officials that the wounded U.S. marines were flown to U.S. army hospitals in Italy and West Germany rather than to the much closer and equally qualified Israeli hospitals because of a rigid observance by the Americans of their standing procedures.
The Israelis feel that it was unfortunate (for the wounded) that the U.S. Army Medical Corps did not react with more imagination and flexibility, as the French military did when it sent some of their wounded from the Beirut carnage to hospitals in Israel. But Israeli policymakers no longer feel that a political desire to steer clear of Israel or to distance itself from Israel underlay the American decision.
TEXT OF SCHULTZ’S LETTER
Shultz, in his letter to Shamir, wrote:
“I want you to know the American people and my colleagues appreciate the outpouring of sympathy and offers of assistance from the government of Israel and from private Israelis from all walks of life on learning of the attack against the marines in Lebanon.
“I especially appreciated your government’s taking extraordinary emergency steps to receive any wounded marines and offering all other possible assistance in the face of this tragedy.
“This is a point I made when appearing before Congress on Monday (October 24). Your spontaneous action genuinely reflects the spirit of close cooperation and friendship which binds our countries together.
“In this instance we were able to care for our injured and wounded from our own resources. But I take deep satisfaction from knowing that Israel stands prepared to help us again in the future if the need arises.
“Please convey my profound gratitude and thanks to all those individuals and organizations who were ready to support us in our hour of need.”