Statement by Deputy Press Secretary Speakes on the Situation in Lebanon

August 12, 1982

The President was shocked this morning when he learned of the new, heavy Israeli bombardment of west Beirut. As a result, the President telephoned Prime Minister Begin concerning the most recent bombing and shelling in Beirut. The President expressed his outrage over this latest round of massive military action. He emphasized that Israel's action halted Ambassador Habib's [Ambassador Philip C. Habib, the President's emissary in consultations in the Middle East.] negotiations for the peaceful resolution of the Beirut crisis when they were at the point of success. The result has been more needless destruction and bloodshed.

The President made it clear that it is imperative that the cease-fire in place be observed absolutely in order for negotiations to proceed. We understand the Israeli Cabinet has approved a new cease-fire, which is in effect. It must hold.

Note: Deputy Press Secretary Larry M. Speakes read the statement at his daily press briefing in the Briefing Room at the White House.

In releasing the statement, Mr. Speakes announced that the President had two telephone conversations with Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel. Prime Minister Begin placed the latter call to tell the President that a complete cease-fire had been ordered by the Israeli Government. The President also received a telephone call from King Fahd ibn `abd al-`Aziz Al Sa'ud of Saudi Arabia, who expressed his concern over the situation in west Beirut. Secretary of State George P. Shultz was with the President during the conversations.