Officials Say No Deal Without Israelis With PM-Hostages, Bjt
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israeli officials, speaking after radical Shiites in Lebanon proposed to swap a U.S. hostage for 450 Arabs held by Israel, said today there would be no exchange unless three Israeli servicemen were freed.
″If we won’t get the Israelis, there won’t be a deal,″ said Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alon Liel.
There were also right-wing calls for retaliation if any Israeli captives were harmed. Rafael Eytan, an ex-chief of staff, said that if pro-Iranian guerrillas carried out a threat to kill a captured Israeli soldier, Israel should retalitate by executing ″10 of theirs.″
Israel officials said those remarks carried no authority and did not represent the views of the government.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaking on the CBS ″Face the Nation″ program Sunday, said Israel would not accept dealing only for the 16 Western hostages.
Avi Pazner, a top aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, said: ″It is obvious we will not agree to a partial exchange.″
An Israeli source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Israel would not even start negotiations unless Israeli prisoners were part of the deal.
Israeli officials said, however, that while diplomatic contacts were being made, no official negotiations had begun and Israel had not yet been delivered any demands through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Asked about the threat made by a Shiite leader, Hussein Mousawi, to kill an Israeli soldier, Liel said Israeli policy was to hold Iran and Syria responsible for the safety of the prisoners.
″We see Hezbollah and countries that are its patrons as responsible for the fate and safety of the hostages,″ said Liel.
Officials said Iran provides money and guidance to Hezbollah, the umbrella for Shiite groups believed to be holding hostages in Lebanon. Syria, they noted, controlled the territory on which hostages were held and could put military pressure on the groups.
Ehud Olmert, the Cabinet minister responsible for Arab affairs, said there would be a ″reaction″ if Israeli POWs were harmed but he declined to give details, saying that could be harmful to negotiations.
In addition to the 150 Lebanese and 300 Palestinian prisoners, Hezbollah wants Israel to free Sheik Abdul Karim Obeid, a Lebanese Shiite clergyman with ties to Hezbollah who was kidnapped from southern Lebanon by Israeli troops on July 28.
Olmert reiterated that Israel would not free Obeid unless Israeli prisoners were part of an exchange.
Israeli spokesmen said their comments were statements of policy and not in response to Hezbollah’s offer to free U.S. hostage Joseph Cicippio for Obeid and the Arab prisoners.
″I don’t think we should relate to each and every statement the Hezbollah is making,″ Pazner said when asked about the offer.
Another official said of the various messages from Lebanon: ″We don’t know how authorized those statements are.″
Eytan, who commanded Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, suggested Israel should kidnap additional Shiite leaders if more bargaining chips were needed for a prisoner swap.
″We have one good bargaining card,″ Eytan said on Israel radio, referring to Obeid. ″If one card is not enough, we have to go in one night and bring back a few more cards, and again the next night. If they threaten, we’ll threaten back. Lebanon is a box full of cards.″
″If they God forbid execute one of our people, we have to kill 10 of theirs,″ Eytan added.
Israel army radio quoted Geula Cohen, a legislator of the right-wing Tehiya party, as calling on Rabin to put Obeid on trial and demand the death penalty if any Israeli soldiers are harmed.
Cohen also criticized the government for proposing to release all the Shiite prisoners held by Israel. She said a lopsided swap in 1985 in which 1,050 Arabs were released for three Israeli POWs planted the seeds for the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
According to unofficial estimates, Israel holds about 400 Shiites. More than 8,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails in connection with the 20-month- old Palestinian uprising.
Army spokesman declined comment on a CBS report that Israeli troops were on alert along the northern border following a threat to Israeli captives. the situation.″