JERUSALEM (May. 11)
Israel has indicated to U.S. special envoy Richard Fairbanks that it is most anxious to maintain the cease-fire along the Lebanese border but would react forcefully to continued breaches by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir told Fairbanks and U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis yesterday that if the PLO wanted to preserve the cease-fire it must desist from acts of terrorism anywhere. Fairbanks, who was appointed by Secretary of State Alexander Haig to represent the U.S. at the autonomy talks between Israel and Egypt, arrived here Sunday night and met with Shamir and Premier Menachem Begin yesterday. He will go to Egypt later this week.
Shamir met with the two American envoys shortly after a four-hour special closed meeting of the Cabinet during which the situation on the northern border was discussed. Referring to cease-fire violations by the PLO, he declared that Israel “cannot sit with its arms folded.”
Israel insists that the cease-fire, in effect since last July, applied to terrorist acts across any of Israel’s borders and against Israeli installations and personnel overseas. According to Israeli sources the U.S. agrees with that interpretation. The Palestinians maintain that the cease-fire applies only to hostilities across the Lebanese border.
VENUE FOR TALKS REMAINS AN ISSUE
Fairbanks’ present mission to the region is believed primarily to try to settle the Israeli-Egyptian dispute over the venue of the autonomy talks once they are resumed. The Egyptians refuse to send their delegation to Jerusalem. The Israeli Cabinet declared Sunday that Israel would not participate in talks anywhere unless Jerusalem is also included as a meeting site. That condition was made clear to the American envoy at his meetings with Begin and Shamir.
Fairbanks would say nothing to reporters when he emerged from his meetings, except that he had “listened carefully” to the Israeli views and would make sure they are fully understood in Washington and Cairo. Israeli sources saw no solution to the venue impasse until Begin meets with President Reagan and Haig when he comes to the U.S. next month. He is scheduled to address the United Nations special session on disarmament on June 18.