Israel today condemned the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and said the attack underscored the legitimacy of its demands for adequate security arrangements in southern Lebanon before it will withdraw its troops from that country.
In public statements by several senior officials, the Israeli government expressed condolences to the United States and said it was pleased by President Reagan's pledge that the United States will not be deterred from pursuing its Middle East peace efforts.
There were also attempts by Israeli officials to link the Palestine Liberation Organization to the attack on the embassy.
Israeli radio quoted Defense Minister Moshe Arens, during a Cabinet meeting today, as saying the attack on the embassy in Beirut "justified Israel's demands for security arrangements" in southern Lebanon in the troop withdrawal negotiations with the Lebanese.
On radio, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir called the bombing of the embassy "shocking," but he added that "in Lebanon nothing is surprising."
"I think the lesson is simple and understood," Shamir said. "The security problems in Lebanon are still most serious, and terrorist organizations continue to operate there, at times with great success as in this instance. And I think that all of those elements interested in removing terror and promoting peace and stability in Lebanon must cooperate, and this must also find expression in the negotiations which are now taking place."
The attempt to link the PLO to the attack on the embassy was made by Deputy Foreign Minister Yehuda Ben-Meir in a speech to a United Jewish Appeal group from the United States.
"There still remain in Beirut itself terrorists, PLO members," he said. "I have no doubt that the PLO in one way or another--although it always finds front organizations--certainly is behind or a part of or related certainly to this act of terror."
Ben-Meir provided no evidence for his assertion. The Israeli press today quoted unnamed senior defense officials as speculating that Syrian intelligence agents were behind the bombing, to undermine the troop withdrawal talks.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent Reagan a message of condolence for the Beirut attack.
"I write in the name of all Israel when I express to you my deep shock at the terrible outrage which took the lives of so many of the American Embassy in Beirut yesterday," Begin said. "We mourn the dead and we express our profound condolences to the bereaved families and pray for the speedy recovery of the injured."
The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv was evacuated today after an anonymous caller warned of a bomb inside the building, embassy officials said. Police searched but nothing suspicious was found.
Meanwhile, the Lebanon troop withdrawal talks resumed with the 31st formal session in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya. Delegates from Israel, Lebanon and the United States each declared their determination to press ahead with the talks and not be deterred by the embassy bombing.
Israel's chief delegate, David Kimche, the Foreign Ministry director general, said the attack on the embassy "is a warning to all of us."
"It was aimed at destroying the peace talks and destabilizing Lebanon," Kimche said. Those responsible, he said, "want to create a situation in which terrorism will again thrive in Beirut and especially in southern Lebanon."