WASHINGTON (Mar. 4)
The Reagan Administration today welcomed the Israeli Cabinet decision to proceed immediately with the second stage of its troop withdrawal from south Lebanon.
It also reiterated previous appeals to all parties for restraint and cooperation in achieving a coordinated pull out of the Israel Defense Force from the remaining Lebanese territory they occupy.
“We welcome the announcement of the second stage of the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon which marks a further step in Israel’s plan for a full withdrawal,” State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb said.
In an apparent reference to the recent escalation of attacks by Shiite guerrillas against Israeli forces in south Lebanon and the “iron fist” policy Israel has adopted in response, Kalb said, “We call on all parties to exercise restraint and break the cycle of action and reaction which has resulted in the loss of life and destruction of property.”
Kalb also urged “the parties to take advantage of the Nakura process,” a reference to the now suspended Lebanese-Israeli talks at Nakura held under the auspices of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, “to assist in arranging a coordinated withdrawal.” He declined to comment when asked if the Administration viewed Israel’s recent actions in south Lebanon as justified. Kalb, meanwhile, in response to a question on last weekend’s closure of the Arab university of Bir Zeit on the West Bank, read a prepared statement which said: “As we have said before, we regret anything which could affect the educational process on the West Bank or interfere with the principle of academic freedom.
“Disruption of the education process can only harm the interests of those who genuinely seek educational opportunities,” the statement said. “We urge that the university be reopened as rapidly as possible.”
Israeli authorities closed the university last weekend, as punishment for an anti-Israeli exhibit organized by the students. The exhibit was to take place last Saturday on two campuses of the university, to mark the founding of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Nayef Hawatmeh.
An army search on Friday night led to the discovery of scores of books calling for rebellion in the West Bank and containing instructions on how to prepare bombs. The exhibit also included pamphlets and posters condoning the armed struggle against the Jewish State.
During the search, the army found in the premises of the university some 37 people preparing the exhibit, some of them students, others students from other universities, and the rest non-students. All were arrested. Another 12 students were arrested in their homes.