JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
“The Lebanese government is situated in Beirut but in fact it takes orders from Damascus. At the head of the government is a person on whose shoulders lies the responsibility for the Cairo agreement of 1959, which opened the gates of Lebanon to murderous terror and caused so many calamities and tragedies to the people of Lebanon.”
This was stated by Deputy Premier and Minister for Foreign Affairs Yitzhak Shamir, during an interview with this writer in his office in Jerusalem.
Referring to the “unbridled campaign” of slander against Israel on the subject of southern Lebanon, which was brought by Rashid Karameh’s government before the UN Security Council, Shamir said that the forces of aggression and blind rejection of Israel, represented by Syria and its Lebanese proxies, nullified the agreements between Jerusalem and Beirut of last year. “Thus, the peace process was set back toward anarchy and terror in Lebanon.”
As to the withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Lebanese territory, the Deputy Premier said that “Israel has no intention of partitioning Lebanon, or to hamper the connection between north and south Lebanon. However, as long as terrorist attacks continue, we will have to take the necessary measures to ensure the security of our forces, to maintain law and order.”
Shamir, who was in a relaxed mood and good shape, made it crystal clear that “contrary to Syria, which is the only real occupying power in Lebanon, Israel has every intention of withdrawing its forces from Lebanon,” he added. “But we will not sit by and permit anyone to incite, arm and direct terrorists to mount attacks on Israel and on its soldiers in Lebanon. We will continue to protect our interests to the best of our capacity.”
TOP LIST OF PRIORITIES
Enumerating the top of the Israeli list of priorities, Shamir, the leader of the Likud, stressed the matter of achieving security and stability for the Jewish State and saving Soviet Jewry. “We call upon our Arab neighbors to make peace with us in good faith,” he said.
Shamir categorically denied Moscow’s claims that the halting of the emigration reflects a lack of desire on the part of the Jews to leave. “Nothing could be further from the truth. Close to 440,000 Jews in the Soviet Union have indicated their willingness to leave, among them thousands of refusenik families who have endured great hardship”, he emphasized.
In this connection, he declared that “not only have thousands of Jews been denied exit permits on the flimsiest of pretexts, but tens of thousands of others have been denied even the possibility of applying for an exit visa.”
In the course of our interview, Shamir called on world Jewry — in the East and West — to “return to Eretz Israel and participate in the rebuilding of the Third Commonwealth.”