Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan has told Israeli officials that the United States supports Israel's controversial policy of attacking Palestinian guerrilla bases in southern Lebanon.
"The Americans accept the (government's) policy that we have the authority, the right and, I say, the obligation to attack the terrorist bases," Dayan told a meeting of Prime Minister Menachem Begin's Likud bloc Monday.
The Americans do not agree with one thing," Dayan said. "Attacks on civilians and, principally, when this is done with American weapons. Here we have difficulties from time to time."
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Monday that the department would not comment on Dayan's remarks until it has seen the full text of his comments.
The State Department generally has condemned Israeli air and ground attacks on suspected Palestinian guerrilla strongholds in Lebanon, particularly when civilian casualties were reported.
In the latest news of such attacks, reports from Beirut said Israeli gunners shelled the southern coastal town of Tyre and surrounding villages today. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Israeli military command here denied firing on Tyre, but a military spokesman said there had been a brief artillery clash between Palestinian guerrillas and Christian militia supported by Israel.
Meanwhile, in Beirut, the Arab mayor of the town of Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank accused Israel of blowing up 20,000 houses there since the Israelis took control of the territory in 1967.
Karim Khalaf was quoted in the Lebanese weekly magazine Al Jammour as saying the Israelis destroyed the homes of people they suspected of cooperating with Palestinian commandos.
Dayan also said Monday the United States is looking for ways to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization so the PLO can take part in the currrent talks on authonomy for Arabs in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"The United States does not deny it is ready for a different (U.N. Middle East) Resolution 242 . . . more attractive to the Palestinians, which will being them to participate in the talks," Dayan said. U.N. Resolution 242 is the basic framework for a Middle East peace settlement.
The United States has said it will not talk with the PLO until it recognizes Israel's right to exist, and has announced its intention to veto a proposed Kuwait resolution in the United Nations that says the Palestinians have the right to an independent state.
Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigail Yadin warned today that "if ever the PLO will be recognized by some others as partner to the negotiations about the peace with Israel, that means that Israel will be out of the game." He spoke on Israeli radio on the eve of a 10-day visit to the United States to explain Israel's position, mostly in meetings with Jewish leaders.