No Script

Please Wait...

Al-Ahed Telegram

The Day Bashir Gemayel Mended His Pace To Meet Sharon

The Day Bashir Gemayel Mended His Pace To Meet Sharon
folder_openSelected Articles access_time8 years ago
starAdd to favorites

Mohammad Bdeir, al-Akhbar Daily

Earlier this month, Yediot Aharonot daily has published a special supplement on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the "First Lebanon War." A report therein relates the story of the coalition between "Israel" and Bashir Gemayel-led Lebanese Forces, and explains the headway of this relation throughout the war, even before it, and after the assassination of Gemayel and the [September, 1982] Sabra and Shatila massacres.

"On September 1, 1982, at 1:00 after midnight, a chopper affiliated to the "Israeli" Air Force landed in a military plant in Nahariya.
At the runway, a military truck was waiting for the guests who had to serry themselves in the back of the vehicle. One of them, Fadi Ephrem, reproached the accompanying Mossad representatives, saying "this is not how an elected president should be received..."

That was not Gemayel's first visit to "Israel," but it was certainly the last. The Yediot Aharonot's report by Shimon Shiffer tells the details of this visit, and what happened before and after it, based on secret documents, namely the minutes of the meetings between "Israeli" officials and the LF leader at the time...

In the plant's canteen, the "Israeli" security and political command was waiting: Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Defense Minister Ariel Sharon, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, and a military brass. That was not Begin and Gemayel's first meeting; however, the all-out grins and cordiality that overwhelmed the former meetings have subsided and turned cold this time.
After relaying heaps of praise on Gemayel and his companions, Begin delivered a long speech, which could be briefed in a nutshell of three words: "you are ingrate." The Prime Minister broached the exorbitant price "Israel" has paid ever since the outbreak of the war, and said, with a drained voice, "I expect you to commit and sign a peace agreement with us..."

"Gemayel did not beat around the bush and succinctly said, "If you seek to eliminate me, then I am ready to sign an agreement tonight. I did not lie to you. I have always told you that the official agreement would take effect after a bout, just like what happened between you and the Shah of Iran. If you induce me to sign now, then you must take into account that you may have to stay in Lebanon forever and protect me from the sides scheming to kill me." ..."The meeting closed. Gemayel and his advisors returned to the military truck that took them back to the runway and then back to Beirut. That was the last meeting between Begin and Bashir Gemayel..."

The relation between "Israel" and Lebanese Christian powers began in 1975, when these powers requested Tel Aviv to help during the civil war sweeping the country. Yitzhak Rabin, then Prime Minister, responded to the plea; "Israeli" aid has mounted, during the pre-1982 invasion years, to USD 118 million, not to mention the training of nearly 1300 elements of Kataeb (Phalange) in special bases inside "Israel."
The Lebanese Forces had many ways and means to buy their "Israeli" fellows. It was not long until they realized how Sharon loved fancy food; on each visit, they imported finest cheese and seafood from Paris, as well as mutton meat and trays of other appetizers. On each visit, there was a copious banquet that would last for hours. But on the military level, the Lebanese Forces were just to no avail. Most of "Israel's" demands to help in the fight were turned down under the pretense that they [LF] were not ready in terms of operations...

While this "Israeli"-LF relation was getting more entrenched, the IDF ("Israeli" Defense Force) General Staff was resuming the plan of war against Lebanon, which Sharon has approved in December 1981. Later in January 1982, he secretly visited Lebanon and met with Bashir Gemayel and the LF command. When he returned from the visit, he called me and said, "I shackled their legs. Everything is now ready for the war, and they will be our partners..."

In early June 1982, Sharon was on a secret visit to Romania when he heard about the attempt on the life of the "Israeli" Ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov. To Begin and Sharon, that was just an excuse to enter Lebanon. After Sharon's return, the "Israeli" government convened on June 6 and decided to execute the "Big Pines" operation... In a cabinet session on June 15, where the occupation of west Beirut was on-the-table, Begin made it clear that such a mission would be laid on the Lebanese Forces. In another session two days later, Sharon told ministers that if it was necessary to enter Beirut, it would be the Lebanese Forces who would go "in front and behind us and purify the city from saboteurs..."

This operation was supposed to hit the spot in the cooperation between "Israel" and the Lebanese Forces. As a matter of fact, Bashir Gemayel's forces were designed to enter west Beirut, which was cordoned off by the "Israeli" army, and purify the Palestinian refugees' camps from saboteurs who harbored in Burj el-Barajneh, Sabra, and Shatila. On the night of June 20, Sharon and commands from the Lebanese Forces met in Beirut and agreed to start the operation after two days. But that did not happen...

On the night of June 22, a sports car rushed into the fortified courtyard of the Mossad mission in Beirut. Bashir Gemayel was driving. At the mission's office, Sharon, along with the Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan, was waiting. Bashir tried to explain why he was incapable of ordering his forces to enter west Beirut. In his defense, he claimed that fighting with "Israel" would raze his chances to be elected as Lebanon's President. Bashir even exclaimed loud, "General, I cannot do this. We are unable to throw the Palestinians outside Beirut."

Sharon irately replied, "Ask your father about how to do it."
The next day, a military chopper landed in Jerusalem; Bashir Gemayel and his close advisors were on board. They left in an armored car and headed to the Prime Minister's seat, where Begin received them on the first floor. Bashir quickly complimented Begin, saying "your government gave us what no other government did. You gave us a chance to realize our dreams."
"True," Begin answered, "it is a historic chance for you and we will help you reach full independence. By the end of the war, you will be crowned as the President of Lebanon, and you will come to Jerusalem, just like Anwar Sadat, to ink a peace agreement."

Bashir spoke of his forces' limited capacities and their need of an "Israeli" help. Begin replied, "We will help you, and you will only have to help us besiege Beirut." In the end of the meeting, Gemayel voiced his approval of entering west Beirut on June 28...But that did not happen.

On the election day on August 23, the "Israeli" army imposed the closure of borderline crossing points between Syria and Lebanon to ban the defiant Lebanese Deputies from crossing the borders and avoiding the participation in the ballot. Special units affiliated to the "Israeli" army were dispatched to the houses of some undecided MPs to guarantee the security of their families. A Mossad officer depicted that as being "exactly like mafias..."

In the meantime, Begin was in Jerusalem waiting to hear news from Beirut. It is true that the Lebanese Forces let him down and did not assume their commitment to purify west Beirut from saboteurs, but Yasser Arafat was about to leave Lebanon, and that was the right time to execute the other part of the deal with Gemayel: inking a peace agreement with "Israel..."

Yet Gemayel has relayed contradicting messages. During his meeting with David Kimchi, Director General of the Foreign Ministry and coordinator of contacts with the Lebanese Forces, Gemayel said, "You will have to wait from six to nine months until I settle in my presidential seat, and then I shall come to Jerusalem to sign the agreement. Meanwhile, I will talk other Arab states--on top of which KSA--into supporting me. I seek to build a strong army and foil the internal resistance in Lebanon..."

Begin demanded an immediate meeting with Gemayel. The very aforementioned meeting in Nahariya closed with no practical results but with fiery tones [instead]. That was just two weeks before Bashir Gemayel was killed.