The U.S. demanded today that Israel withdraw its armed forces from west Beirut immediately and charged that their presence in that part of the Lebanese capital was in violation of agreements concluded last month and of assurances given the U.S. by Israel only yesterday.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Larry Speakes told reporters today, “There is no justification in our view for Israel’s continued military presence in west Beirut and we call for an immediate pullback.”
The tough stance taken at both the White House and the State Department emerged after Secretary of State George Shultz summoned Israeli Ambassador Moshe Arens to the State Department late yesterday afternoon for a discussion of events in Beirut. Arens was at the State Department again this morning for a meeting with Lawrence Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.
The Israeli envoy apparently was told that the U.S. considers Israel in violation of the August 20 agreement negotiated by U.S. special Ambassador. Philip Habib which led to the evacuation of Syrian and Palestine Liberation Organization forces from west Beirut.
SPELLS OUT U.S. POSITION
State Department spokesman John Hughes said today: “It appears from press reports and eye-witness accounts that the Israelis have now moved into strategic positions throughout west Beirut and control much of that sector of the city. This is contrary to assurances given to us by the Israelis both in Washington and in Israel.”
Hughes explained, in reply to questions, that yesterday’s moderate U.S. response to Israel’s entry into west Beirut was occasioned by “the assurances received from Israel yesterday that this was a limited and precautionary exercise.” He said a study of the situation showed that this was “no longer true.”
“We see no need for them (the Israelis) to be there and we are calling for them to withdraw,” Hughes said. He said “We fully support the Lebanese government’s call for the withdrawal of Israeli forces which are in clear violation of the cease-fire understanding to which Israel is a party. There is no justification, in our view, for Israel’s continued presence in west Beirut and we call for an immediate pullback.”
With respect to the political situation in Lebanon since the assassination of President-elect Bashir Gemayel Tuesday, Hughes said the central government continues to move in the direction of political stability. He could not say when elections for a new President would be held. Hughes said there are no plans to send U.S. Marines back to Beirut or to redeploy a multinational force there.
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.