Israel’s Finance Minister said today his country moved into Lebanon “to prevent another Pearl Harbor, another Yom Kippur War,” and that “every liberty-loving person in the world has benefited from Israel’s victory over the Soviet-supplied PLO and Syrian forces.” Yoram Aridor, a leading figure in Premier Menachem Begin’s Likud Party, told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations:
“The Soviet missiles that threatened Israel in the I Bekaa valley in Lebanon also face NATO in Europe. It is good for the Free World to know that Israel’s forces have developed an answer to those missiles, having destroyed scores of them during the fighting to defend our country against the PLO’s plans to liquidate us.”
Aridor said Israelis would pay an extra $1 billion in taxes to pay for the Lebanese war. But he said the heaviest cost was the loss of 330 Israeli soldiers who died “to prevent another Pearl Harbor, another Yom Kippur War.” The Israeli Cabinet official, on a brief visit to the United States, said Israel had “no other choice but to move against the PLO terrorists.”
He displayed a recently-discovered PLO document — never before released — issued in January, 1981 by the “Ministry of Defence, USSR.” The document, in Russian and English, certified that PLO Lt. Col. Rashad Ahmed Abdel Aziz El-Nabriz had completed a five-month course for tank battalion commanders and was now authorized to undertake “independent activities associated with the subject. The ‘independent activity’ Aridor said, “was a license to kill. The ‘subject’ was Jews.”
He also showed captured PLO documents which he said spelled out detailed plans for missile attacks against Dan, Kiryat Shmona, Metullah, Nahariya and other towns and villages in Israel’s northern Galilee.
ANSWERS CRITICISM OF ISRAEL
Aridor acknowledged that there had been criticism of Israel for the civilian casualties that resulted” from its move into Lebanon, but he declared: “We did everything in our power to minimize civilian casualties. But it was the PLO’s strategy to place its troops, its guns and its ammunition in the midst of camps, villages and towns.”
Aridor showed another document, dated May 28, 1981, issued by the PLO’s Al Fotah headquarters in Sidon, Lebanon, declaring, in part: “The built-up areas in the town of Sidon and surrounding villages are excellent areas for shelter. The trees enable complete camouflage and concealment for vehicles and personnel. Positions should be taken up in the built-up areas in Sidon, the refugee camps and villages.”
Israel, Aridor said, “seeks not one inch of Lebanese territory. Rather, we look forward to the day when we will sign a peace treaty with a free and independent Lebanon. And let us remember this — Every Arab country that signs a peace treaty with Israel thereby removes itself from Soviet influence.”
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.