279. Telegram From the Mission to the United Nations to the Department of State1

710. Lebanon/Israel in SC. PM Feb 27, Amb Bush made following statement in SC:


The USG views with deep concern the recurrence of incidents along the Lebanese border and the continuing incursions within Lebanon by Israeli defense forces.

Yesterday, we had understood that the military action had ended. We are distressed and very concerned to find that there have been new incidents along the frontier and even more extensive measures by Israel.

We must, Mr. President, express deep regret and concern that Israel has prolonged and intensified its attacks on the territory of Lebanon. We cannot condone such actions. As we have repeatedly made clear, the US fully supports the territorial integrity and political independence of Lebanon. We therefore believe the SC should call upon the Govt of Israel to withdraw its forces immediately from Lebanese territory.2

The US deeply regrets the loss of life that has occurred on both sides. We also sympathize fully with Israel’s distress at the loss of life at the hands of guerrilla infiltrators which apparently precipitated this latest round. The continuation of such acts of terrorism is not in the interest of any of the people of the area because it can only delay the achievement of a just and lasting peace that all of us here support—in the Security Council and in the United Nations.

At the same time, we know that the Govt of Lebanon has made strenuous efforts over past months to maintain quiet along the border. We recognize the difficulty of sealing the border completely, but unless more effective measures can be taken to do so, a situation is perpetuated in which Israel is exposed to terrorist attacks and feels compelled in self-defense to retaliate.

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However, the US believes the way to solve the problem lies not in hortatory declarations nor in further recourse to armed force. It lies, rather, through direct liaison and cooperation between the parties to provide the most reliable assurance possible regarding the security of each. It is the parties who must redouble their efforts to avoid a repetition of the cycle of attacks and counter-attacks.

The US, therefore, urges that both Israel and Lebanon have more frequent recourse to the international facilities that exist for the exchange of information and consultation on border matters. Above all, we ask for an end to cross-border attacks and terrorism, without which the cycle of action and reaction cannot be broken.

These events serve to underline the urgency of moving ahead on negotiations for a peaceful settlement for until peace is achieved, failure to satisfy the fundamental and legitimate concerns of all the peoples of the area will perpetuate tensions.

As to the resolution before us, in our statement we have expressed our concern over the loss of life on both sides. Others here have addressed themselves to the events which led to the situation as it stands today. As I look at the resolution, it is brief and to the point, but it would better reflect the genuine concern that we feel for the loss of life—the loss of innocent civilian life—if the resolution were amended to include the words “on both sides” after the word “lives.” The preambular sentence would then read: “Deploring all actions which have resulted in the loss of innocent lives on both sides.” It can be stated that as written the sentence implies that we deplore actions on both sides, but it would be clearer indeed if the Council would accept this one amendment. This amendment is in keeping with the views expressed here by several countries. I strongly hope the Council will accept our amendment. As the co-sponsors stated, the present text is not entirely satisfactory to all members of the Council. For our part, we strongly believe that the thought implicit in the preamb para should be made explicit. I am most sympathetic with the plea by our colleague from Italy but the addition of these three words seems to us to express more fairly the humanitarian concern we all feel. My govt feels so strongly on this point that I feel I must submit this amendment to the text before us. End quote.

2. Following the defeat of the preambular paragraph (8(US)–4–3)3 Amb Bush made following statement:

Quote: We find it incomprehensible that people around this table could have failed to support the inclusion of the statement which read “deploring all actions which have resulted in the loss of innocent lives.” [Page 986] How this Council could object to such fair, humane language leaves us completely baffled. Yes, we voted for the resolution without the preambular paragraph for as we said in our statement, “The SC should call upon the Govt of Israel to withdraw its forces immediately from Lebanese territory.” That we have done, but it is our strongly held view that the Council even at this stage knows enough and should have cared enough to deplore among other things the actions which resulted in the loss of innocent lives. Let me be clear, our vote on the final passage of this resolution was in no way a condonation of events that led up to Israel’s actions. End quote.4

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1167, Saunders Files, Middle East Negotiations Files, Middle East—Jarring Talks, February 16–March 1, 1972. Unclassified; Immediate. Repeated to Amman and Immediate to Beirut and Tel Aviv.
  2. Israeli shelling and air and ground attacks on Palestinian commando positions in southern Lebanon began on February 25 after guerrillas fired on Israeli positions in the Mt. Hermon area. The Israeli forces withdrew on February 28.
  3. The preambular paragraph was defeated in a separate vote.
  4. Security Council Resolution 313, unanimously adopted early in the morning of February 28, reads: “The Security Council demands that Israel immediately desist and refrain from any ground and air military action against Lebanon and forthwith withdraw all its military forces from Lebanese territory.” For a summary of the Security Council debate, see Yearbook of the United Nations, 1972, pp. 158–160. The text of Resolution 313 is ibid., p. 172.