Exchange of Letters with U.S.
(June 6, 1982)
A day after Ambassador Argov
was shot in London, President Reagan sent a message to Begin
expressing deep shock and calling for
restraint. The message came too late to prevent the Cabinet decision
to invade Lebanon. On June 6, Reagan again requested
for Begin to "avoid military steps that could
lead to a widening of the conflict. " He suggested that
Ambassador Habib proceed to the Middle East again and resume his
mission. In his reply, Begin explained the need for
the military operation
stated that "the army has been instructed to push back the
terrorists to a distance of forty kilometers to the north. "
June 6, 1982
His Excellency Menachem
Prime Minister of the State of Israel
Following the abominable
shooting of Ambassador Argov and the subsequent escalation of
violence, I am sure that you are aware of our efforts with the
interested parties in Europe and the Middle East to urge that no
further actions be taken against Israel that could only worsen the
situation. As we continue our efforts, I hope you will give the most
serious consideration to the message Ambassador Lewis conveyed to you
late Saturday evening and will do what you can to avoid military
steps that could lead to a widening of the conflict and even greater
Secretary Haig and I will be
consulting with Ambassador Habib today. Following those discussions,
if the situation permits, we will ask him to proceed on his mission
to the area as scheduled. I hope you will agree on the need to work
together to bring about those conditions which, over time, will
recreate a stable and secure Lebanon and ultimately lead to security
on Israel's northern border.
I pray our efforts will
succeed to ensure that the situation does not go beyond the violence
of recent hours. As you know, the security of Israel remains of the
utmost concern to me.
With warm regards,
Letter to the President
Jerusalem, June 6, 1982
Dear Mr. President, Dear
I thank you for your letter
of June 4. Your words of sympathy, friendship and understanding
touched me deeply.
I am in permanent contact
with the surgeon - a wonderful man - who operated on Ambassador Argov.
His last call from London came yesterday evening; the good doctor
informed me that he still cannot make a definite prognosis. It seems
already clear, however, that if the Ambassador survives the
assassination attempt he will be left paralyzed. Nothing can be
determined as yet about how his intellectual faculties will function.
Very early this morning, Mr.
President, I received your second letter dated June 6, for which I
thank you. I feel it is my duty, in answering it, to describe to you
the real situation.
For the last seventy-two
hours, twenty-three of our towns, townships and villages in Galilee
have been under the constant shelling of Soviet-supplied heavy
artillery and Katyusha rockets by the "P.L.O." terrorists.
Tens of thousands of men, women and children remain day and night in
shelters. We have suffered casualties. The terrorists are aiming
their guns exclusively at the civilian population. There are many
military targets in the area; these are completely
"immune". The purpose of the enemy is to kill - to kill
Jews; men, women and children. Is there a nation in the world that
would tolerate such, a situation which, after the cessation of
hostilities agreement, has repeated itself time and again?
The question is clearly
answered in the most recent action of the United Kingdom which is now
waging a full-fledged war eight thousand miles from its shores in the
name of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Mr. President, the
bloodthirsty aggressor against us is on our doorstep. Do we not have
"the inherent right to self-defense?" Does not Article 51
of the Charter apply to us? Is the Jewish State an exception to all
the rules applying to all other nations? The answer to these
questions is enshrined in the questions themselves.
Mr. President, the
Government of Israel decided to do its best to put an end to this
intolerable situation. The army has been instructed to push back the
terrorists to a distance of forty kilometers to the north so that all
our civilians in the region of Galilee will be set free of the
permanent threat to their lives.
We do not covet one inch of
Lebanese territory. We wish to sign a peace treaty with a free,
independent Lebanon that will preserve its territorial integrity. But
it is our duty to make sure that our citizens and their families can
live peacefully and carry on their daily lives without the lurking
permanent threat of sudden death.
I do hope, Mr. President,
that you will take into consideration the unique situation in which
we find ourselves as a result of the repeated aggression against us
perpetrated by a Soviet-promoted terrorist organization bent on
shedding the blood of our people in the Land and abroad.
We shall do our sacred duty.
So help us God.
Yours respectfully and