WASHINGTON (Jan. 5)
Israeli Premier Shimon Peres today urged countries to join together in taking non-military action against countries to joint together in taking non-military action against countries that harbor terrorists.
“I would strongly recommend that collective measures be taken against host countries,” Peres said on ABC-TV’s “This week with David Brinkley.” “I am referring first and mainly to economic, political and other sanctions against this sort of country.”
But Peres stressed that there can be no “immunity” for terrorists or their bases. He noted that when Israel bombed the Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters in Tunisia, it was not attacking Tunisia, which he called a “moderate” country, but was striking at an “extra-territorial base.”
Peres’ call for political and economic sanctions seemed to be in line with the Reagan Administration’s efforts to get the West European countries to join in imposing economic sanctions on Libya in the wake of the terrorist attacks on the El Al counters at the Rome and Vienna airports December 27.
FOUR-YEAR EFFORT TO INVOLVE EUROPEAN NATIONS
Robert McFarlane, who recently left the post as President Reagan’s National Security Advisor, appearing on the same ABC program, said the U.S. has been urging such action from the Europeans since 1981. He said collective action should be taken before more violent means are tried. He suggested that Europeans could start by bringing their people out of Libya and then beginning to cut trade with the Libyans.
Peres said that “Europe is learning the hard way that something must be done and undoubtedly that Libya is the most evil country in many respects and surely when it comes to terrorism.”
DENIES U.S. PRESSURE ON ISRAEL
Meanwhile, Peres denied that the U.S. has pressured Israel either to retaliate or not to retaliate against those responsible for the airport atrocities. He said the U.S. has taken a “responsible and strong position.”
The Israeli Premier said this has resulted in Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi backing down from his original position of strongly supporting the terrorist attacks. He said Qaddafi, who is “heroic in his speeches and irresponsible in his killings,” is now frightened of what may happen. “But let him be scared instead of other people being frightened,” Peres said.
This assessment seemed to be brought out by Qaddafi himself who backed off from a scheduled appearance today on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press.” Instead, reporters from the U.S. television networks were taken to a Libyan farm where Qaddafi held a news conference from the seat of a tractor.
He said while it would not be legal for him to carry out attacks such as at the Rome and Vienna airports, “It may be so” for the Palestinians who, he said, were acting the same way as American colonialists did against the British.
Qaddafi said that while he has met this year with Abu Nidal, the Palestinian terrorist leader believed responsible for the Vienna and Rome atrocities, Abu Nidal does not live in Libya nor has bases there. He said he did not know where Abu Nidal was.
PERES CAUTIOUS IN IMPLICATING SYRIA
However, Peres, saying lying was easy for Qaddafi, declared that Abu Nidal is “right now in Libya” and has his bases in Libya. He rejected a report in the London Sunday Times which claimed that Israeli sources said Abu Nidal was dying of liver cancer and the terrorist attacks were actually carried out by Libyan and Syrian agents.
But Peres seemed more cautious in implicating Syria in the terrorist attacks. “Syria is more careful,” he noted. But he warned that if “Syria will not cooperate more clearly to prevent terrorism in the world” then it too, should be considered as a host country for terrorism.
Peres was also cautiously optimistic about Syria’s withdrawal of the SAM-6 and SAM-8 anti-aircraft missiles from the Lebanese border, although he noted that the SAM-2 missiles were still there. He said he believed there is a need to “de-escalate in our rhetoric” in order to “return to a status quo ante so as to keep a very complicated co-existence” in that area. (See related story.)