Premier Menachem Begin declared last night that when the IDF hit back — they hit back hard. Everybody should remember that, when they raise a hand against a Jewish child…”
Addressing an emergency United Jewish Appeal Prime Minister’s Mission at the Knesset as the IDF guns tanks and planes were hitting at west Beirut last evening, Begin said the fighting “will soon be finished….We may look today beyond the fighting … There may be an historic period of peace for Israel.”
He cited the Biblical passage “and the land was quiet for forty years,” saying it might well apply to Israel now that the northern border threat had been dealt with.
“The peace with Egypt is holding,” Begin declared. “The Egyptians curse us — but Men Ken Lebben Mit Dos (we can live with it ….)” There was not a single Egyptian soldier within 150 kilometers of Israel’s border, in line with the Sinai demilitarization terms, he noted.
“Jordan cannot attack us. Syria cannot attack us, it does not have the capability. With Lebanon we shall sign a peace treaty.” Begin held out the prospect of tourist package tours embracing Israel, Egypt and Leban on. He said he would seek peace talks with Jordan’s King Hussein.
REFERS TO GROWING U.S. ANGER
In an apparent oblique reference to growing U.S. anger at the IDF operations in Beirut, Begin recalled that on the first Thursday of the war the Israel Cabinet had rejected a cease-fire appeal from President Reagan on the grounds that at that stage some PLO fighters were only 18 kilometers from Metulla.
Israel had only agreed to stop fighting next day, when all PLO forces had been pushed back beyond the 40 kilometer limit, but the PLO had not abided by the cease-fire, triggering fresh hostilities, Begin said.
The Premier said Israel would “one day” share its secret method of destroying advanced Russian SAM air-to-air missiles. “It will change the relative strengths of NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries,” he said.
Reactions to a report from Washington that Sen. Charles Percy (R. III.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had urged President Reagan to bring Israel to its knees, Begin declared: “Nobody is going to bring Israel to its knees …. Jews kneel only to God ….” And he reiterated that if the PLO failed to leave Beirut “we shall have to solve the problem.”
PERCY DENIES ALLEGATION
(In Washington, Percy issued the following statement: “The allegation that I said Israel should be brought to her knees if she invades west Beirut is utterly false. I never made such a statement, and other Senators who attended the meeting at the White House with the President agree that I never made such a statement nor anything like it. I have informed Prime Minister Begin by cable that the report is untrue….”)
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.