TEL AVIV (Jul. 22)
Ariel Sharon has received official permission to make public his version of the Lebanon war in an address to a forum of senior Israel Defense Force officers and Defense establishment figures next month, Al Hamishmar reported Monday.
Sharon, who was Defense Minister during the war and is now Minister of Commerce and Industry, intends to answer criticism voiced by Generals Avigdor Ben-Gal and Amir Drori. They spoke at a seminar at Tel Aviv University’s Center for Strategic Studies six weeks ago on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Lebanon War.
Sharon has been accused by many of engineering the IDF’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982 without informing Premier Menachem Begin and the rest of the Cabinet of his full objectives. Last year, he won a libel suit in the U.S. against Time magazine which had reported that Sharon encouraged the family of Lebanese President-elect Bashir Gemayel to avenge his assassination. According to Time, that resulted in the massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by members of the Christian Phalangist militia.
While the American court found the story false, it did not rule it libelous and did not award Sharon punitive damages. The controversial general is now considering a libel suit against Israeli journalist David Halevy who presently lives in the United States, Hadashot reported Monday.
Halevy and an American co-author have written a book about Lt. Col. Oliver North who was fired from the National Security Council last year. According to extracts from the book, published in Maariv Friday, North visited Sharon at his ranch in June 1982 and the then Defense Minister “described to (him) the details of the Israeli military plan in Lebanon” including plans for the IDF to attack the Syrian army.
Sharon denied vigorously that he was ever visited by North at his ranch, Yediot Achronot reported Sunday.
Davar reported Monday that Labor Mk David Libai, chairman of the Knesset’s Public Audit Committee, and MK Ran Cohen of the Citizens Rights Movement plan to ask Attorney General Yosef Harish to investigate possible criminal charges against Meshulam Riklis, the multi-mil-lionaire businessman living in the U.S. who allegedly financed Sharon’s suit against Time.
Davar quoted a book on the time case, coauthored by Sharon’s associate Uri Dan, which referred to Riklis’ financial assistance.
An unrelated report in Maariv Monday said that Maj. Gen. Moshe Bar-Kochba has asked permission to write an article critical of the IDF in Al Hamishmar, organ of the Mapam Party. This would be unprecedented for an active-duty IDF officer.
According to Maariv, Bar-Kochba’s article is entitled “Is the IDF Senior Command Prepared for Future Challenges?” Maariv said Bar-Kochba believes the IDF has not learned the proper lessons from the Lebanon War and therefore is not prepared for future wars.
The military authorities have been considering his request for two weeks without reaching a decision, Maariv reported.