Israeli heavy artillery, tanks and warplanes attacked Syrian and Palestinian mountain positions again today as the United States asked this country's ruling council about a possible settlement plan that was characterized by one Lebanese political figure as tantamount to "total surrender" by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Israeli aircraft bombed Syrian and Palestinian positions for the second consecutive day in and around Beirut's closed international airport and along a 15-mile stretch of the Beirut-Damascus road. Tanks and artillery attacked the same targets.
With signs pointing increasingly to an imminent Israeli attack against the predominantly Moslem sector of the divided capital, special U.S. envoy Philip C. Habib informed the National Salvation Council of Israeli rejection of a plan to deal with Palestinian guerrillas that had been endorsed by the seven-member Lebanese body.
The plan rejected by Israel called in part for withdrawal by Israeli forces to six miles outside of the capital, the return of the guerrillas to their refugee camps, the stockpiling of their arms, the installation of the Lebanese Army as a buffer and the reopening of the Beirut-Damascus highway.
According to council member Walid Jumblatt, Habib then asked for "very precise answers" to a "very specific plan involving three issues and three basic questions" dealing with the future of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon.
Meanwhile, ranking Israeli officials said Israel insists, as a condition for any settlement in Beirut, that PLO leader Yasser Arafat and the PLO's "core" leadership be expelled from Lebanon to a country not bordering Israel. Details on A26
Jumblatt, leader of the Druze sect and the main conduit inside the council for the PLO in these indirect negotiations with Israel, described the proposals as "American" and said they "amount to total surrender." He gave no details of Habib's communication.
Prime Minister Shafiq Wazzan was instructed to meet tonight with Arafat to discuss the unspecified proposals. No new meeting of the National Salvation Council was scheduled pending the outcome of those talks.
Although Jumblatt referred to the new proposals as "American"--and suggested that Israeli conditions "might be even tougher"--he left unclear whether he viewed the new proposals, or anything else said by Habib, as constituting a separate U.S. plan.
Jumblatt said the United States refused requested guarantees safeguarding West Beirut from Israeli shelling or ground assault on the Palestinian refugee camps now undergoing air and artillery attacks.
Nor, he indicated, were any American guarantees forthcoming about the National Salvation Council's specific request for ensuring the physical safety of Arafat and George Habash, leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Jumblatt reported that Habib said, "We are not murderers."
"I told Mr. Habib he is not impartial," Jumblatt said, echoing a widely held view here that the United States is less an honest broker than a surrogate for Israeli power, "and that he is responsible for the destruction of Tyre, Sidon and maybe Beirut." Jumblatt reported that Habib protested.
Each side today accused the other of breaking the cease-fire that Habib persuaded the Israelis to accept yesterday.
Starting in the west just above the presidential palace at Baabda in the mountains overlooking Beirut, the Israelis attacked targets all the way to Dahr al Baidar, the pass in the Mount Lebanon range before the road twists down to the narrow, fertile Bekaa Valley and the Syrian border beyond.
Among the targets hit were Jamhour, Alayh, Bhamdoun, Dahr al Baidar, the Mdereij road junction and Hammana, another crossroad town two miles to the north.
Correspondents at Beit Merri, a Christian village overlooking Beirut, said Israeli tanks and artillery kept up a steady fire on their foes in the same locations.
The Israeli mountain drive appeared calculated to capture the high ground in the Mount Lebanon range--and the entire Beirut-Damascus road section in the range--as a possible chip in future negotiations with Syria about the presence of Syrian troops in Lebanon. The Syrian Army is sufficiently concerned about the present Israeli drive to have concentrated its defenses around Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley to protect Syria's industrial and agricultural base from a rapid Israeli push that could bring down President Hafez Assad's government.
In other ground action, a major tank battle was reported by both official Radio Lebanon and the Israelis just east of Lake Qirawn in the eastern Bekaa Valley.
Israeli military spokesmen claimed that Syrian forces had tried to advance, but were repelled. Syria claimed to have killed five Israelis, and the Israelis said two Syrians died in that fighting.
Nearer Beirut in the Chouf mountains, Palestinian guerrillas were fighting an Israeli force seeking to cut the Beirut-Damascus road near Souq al Gharb and Alayh, the Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
The Palestinians said they destroyed one Israeli tank and a mortar battery.
In Beirut, a car bomb exploded in the late afternooon outside the Lebanese Army officers' club opposite the hulk of the seaside Phoenicia Hotel along Beirut's once-fashionable luxury hotel row. Five persons were reported killed and 15 wounded in the explosion. A half hour later another car bomb exploded in the same street.
In Juniyah, a Christian port 12 miles north of Beirut, Americans, British and other foreign nationals prepared to leave on ships sent to evacuate them.