Israel never received approval from the United States for its invasion of Lebanon II months ago, according to former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, who said, “On the contrary, we were warned not to go” into Lebanon.
Sharon, who is now Minister-Without-Portfolio, told reporters at a press conference last night at the Sutton Place Synagogue, that U.S. officials had warned against taking military action against Palestinian terrorists in south Lebanon without “clear provocation.”
“I asked, “When you are talking about Jews, what is clear provocation? How many Jews must be killed’?” Sharon said. “I say we don’t have to wait until the knife cuts deeps into our throats.”
The press conference preceded a public dialogue Sharon participated in with Rabbi David Kahane, spiritual leader of the Sutton Place Synagogue. An estimated 1500 persons crowded into the synagogue, which included a basement hall filled to capacity where a closed circuit broadcast of the dialogue was provided. Outside, meanwhile, hundreds jammed the street listening to Sharon through loudspeakers.
At the press conference, Sharon said the Leban on action was initiated to ” crush the kingdom of terror with its headquarters in Beirut and to eliminate the threat against northern Israeli towns of being shelled by PLO rockets.”
During the dialogue, the Israeli official said that from January, 1965 through June 6, 1983, when Israel crossed the border into Lebanon, there were 1,392 people killed and about 6,390 wounded as a result of terrorist operations directed or orchestrated from Lebanon by Palestinian terrorists against Jewish-owned and Israeli-operated installations worldwide.
CITES FAILURE OF THE ACCORD
Sharon, who along with Minister of Science Yuval Neeman of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction, cast the two dissenting votes in the Cabinet last Friday against the agreement reached between Israel and Lebanon, said the agreement failed to take into consideration adequately Israel’s security needs to prevent a return to the region of Palestinian terrorists.
“The agreement does not prevent the future regrouping of terrorists in Lebanon,” Sharon said. He said the Lebanese government does not control Lebanon nor does it hardly have control of Beirut. While not directly accusing the multinational force which operates in Beirut and its environs of “collaborating with terrorists, ” Sharon said that they act as a “barrier” against Israeli forces taking action against them.
Sharon said he also objected to the agreement because it weakens the role of Israel’s ally in south Lebanon, Maj. Saad Haddad, commander of a 1,200 man Christian militia force. He said that the one-third of Lebanese land controlled by Haddad in the southern region is the only place where there “is relative harmony” between the various Lebanese groups.
REPLIES TO QUESTIONS
Sharon, who was interrupted with applause more than a dozen times during the two-hour dialogue with Kahane, appeared relaxed and good-spirited. On the 13 questions covering a broad range of topics Sharon was asked, he gave the following replies:
* On Israel’s operation “Peace for Galilee,” he said that many Israeli casualties were a result of efforts by the Israel Defense Force to prevent Lebanese civilian casualties.
* Israel did not “invade” Lebanon but went there “with a clear purpose … to destroy, to eliminate the PLO terrorists who were killing, massacring and raping Lebanese civilians.”
* Referring to the Israel Commission of Inquiry report into the Beirut refugee camps massacre by Christian Phalangists which resulted in his resignation as Defense Minister, Sharon said it was the first time anywhere that a Defense Minister left his post “due to actions by others … Israel was not responsible directly and not indirectly.
* American Jews have a right to voice concern over Israeli policies that deal with social, scientific and cultural developments. But he said when it comes to Israel’s security needs, Israelis should not be pressured by world Jewry to any position since it is the Israeli who is fighting and serving to defend the Jewish State.
* Sharon reaffirmed his commitment to continued Jewish settlement activities on the West Bank while pointing out its strategic importance. He said Jewish settlement was the best way to prevent the establishment of a “second” Palestinian state, a reference to his persistent claims that Jordan is a Palestinian state.
* Asked about a solution to the future status of Jerusalem, Sharon said: “The problem of Jerusalem has already been solved.” He said this was accomplished in 1967 after Israel gained control over all of Jerusalem in the Six-Day-War and that the capital now provides free access and entrance to all.
* Sharon also said that the role of a ” Jewish General” is that he must be “a commander devoted fully to his country and ready to take responsibility.” He added: “If we, the Jews, lose the war, we will be exterminated. This a Jewish General should know.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.