UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 3)
Israel defended its attack on Palestine Liberation Organization bases in Tunisia, telling the Security Council last night that it was an act of “self-defense” and “a legitimate response to acts of terrorism.” Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, told the Council, which went into session at Tunisia’s request after the Israeli air raid, that the Israel attack was a response to increasing terrorist attacks, organized and directed by the PLO. He said that “the most recent murders were the savage early morning slaughter of three defenseless people, a woman and two men,” in Larnaca, Cyprus, by PLO terrorists.
The envoy claimed that the Israeli attack was a “strike aimed at the culprits, and at the culprits alone.” He said that “any civilian casualties were wholly inadvertent and unintentional, and the result of the deliberate PLO tactic of planting its bases among civilians. Civilians, let us remember, are the key to PLO’s strategy. They kill civilians and they hide behind them.”
HOST COUNTRY BEARS RESPONSIBILITY
As to the charge that Israel attacked a country not actively at war with it, the Ambassador said: “Every state has a responsibility to prevent armed attacks from its territory, especially terrorist attacks against civilians.”
Netanyahu added: “Under no circumstances can Israel accept the notion that bases and headquarters of terrorist killers should enjoy immunity anywhere, anytime. It was against them that our action was directed, not against their host country. Nevertheless, the host country does bear considerable responsibility.”
The Israeli operation in Tunis, Netanyahu declared, “should be viewed for what it is: One action in our larger, continuing struggle against international terrorism and its core–the PLO. The PLO has nurtured, trained, armed, and financed terror groups on every continent and from every political complexion …. And though the PLO had last its all-important terrorist empire in Lebanon, it established a new extra-territorial base in Tunisia, from which it sought to continue, presumably at a safe distance, its campaign of global terror.”
The Security Council is scheduled to reconvene tonight and continue its debate on the Israel attack. Because of the long list of speakers, it is not clear when a vote on the Tunisian draft resolution will take place. Tunisia demands that Israel pay reparations for the loss of life caused by its attack and that the international community impose sanctions on the Jewish State.
GROWING DOUBTS ABOUT U.S. VETO
Meanwhile, Israel has intensified its contacts with top American officials to ensure an American veto in the Security Council on the Tunisian draft resolution.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir has personally contacted American officials to ensure that the United States will not support the resolution. Israeli diplomats said yesterday that it was almost certain that the U.S. would veto the resolution. But after the U.S. yesterday expressed some criticism of the Israeli action in Tunisia, there were growing doubts today about the certainty of an American veto.
The Administration’s reaction immediately after the Israeli action was that it considered the bombing of the PLO headquarters as a “legitimate” act of self-defense against terrorism. Yesterday, however, the Administration softened its view by referring to the bombing as an “understandable” act and also called for an end to violence in the Middle East.