Lebanon Sends Letter of Protest to UN With AM-Lebanon, Bjt
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Lebanon vehemently protested to the United Nations Friday over U.S. efforts to close Beirut airport, saying the move violated international law and was an overreaction to the TWA hijacking.
The letter sent to the office of U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said Lebanon ″considers that the violation of international law by states is more serious than such violations by irregular groups.″
This was a reference to the Shiite militants who hijacked TWA flight 847 while en route from Athens, Greece, to Rome on June 14. After releasing most of the 153 people onboard during stops in Algiers, Algeria, and Beirut, the two armed hijackers forced the Boeing 727 back to Beirut for a third and last time and held 39 Americans hostage there for 17 days.
Accusing the Reagan administration of ignoring the causes of the hijacking, the letter complained that the U.S. action burdened innocent Lebanese without punishing the hijackers.
″Isolating Lebanon and preventing its two national airlines from operating normally ... amount to a reaction that is out of proportion, in terms of its impact and its magnitude, to the harm caused by the hijacking,″ the letter stated.
Lebanon’s United Nations ambassador, Rashid Fakhoury, transmitted the letter but did not request immediate action by the U.N. Security Council. However, he said Lebanon reserved the right to call the 15-nation council into session later to deal with the U.S. boycott effort.
Lebanon holds little hope of council action, however, since the United States can veto any resolution directed against it.
The American response was ″in total contradiction to the most elementary norms of international law,″ the letter said, noting that the hijacking did not originate at Beirut airport and that Lebanese authorities even sought to prevent the pirated aircraft from landing.
Beirut airport control tower allowed the aircraft to land only when the pilot said he was running out of fuel and the passengers were in danger. The airport was controlled by gunmen of the Shiite Moslem Amal militia.
The letter said the Lebanese government was ″making efforts to control the security situation at Beirut International Airport and is prepared to take part in any international initiative aimed at combatting acts of whatever kind (that are) contrary to international law.″
By punishing Lebanon, it said, the United States was avoiding ″the fact that Israel’s policy in Lebanon has given rise to deep resentments in the hearts of certain groups among the peoples of the region and that some of this feeling, for obvious reasons, extends to the United States of America.″
Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1982 to quash attacks by Palestine Liberation Organization guerrillas.
The hijackers demanded the release of 766 Lebanese prisoners that the Israelis took with them when they withdrew from Lebanon. Israel has released about 331 Lebanese since the hijack ended.