The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr.
GV INTERIOR: Israel's Prime Minister Menachem Begin listening to question from member of the Foreign Press Association
SV PAN FROM: FPA sign TO Mr Begin listening to another question
CU Prime Minister Begin replying with newsmen listening (10 shots)
NEWSMAN: "Could you define for us the nature of Israel's commitment to the Christians of Northern Lebanon and by what means Israel might be willing or able to fulfil that commitment should these Christians come under attack?"
BEGIN: "No, I will not go into any details and you understand very well why I will refrain from it. What I would like to say is, we don't know what's now happening in Lebanon. We of course tried to find out the facts and the intentions, but if the Christians, the Christian minority, either in the south or in the north are being attacked, Israel will not be passive as far as the danger looming over the Christian minority is concerned."
NEWSMAN: "Mr. Prime Minister, I would like your reaction to the redeployment of Syrian forces in Lebanon. What is the Israeli government reaction? Your comment on this and how you see it as a potential danger?"
BEGIN: "There are movements of the Syrian forces in Lebanon. We are on our guard as we have to be. We don't know yet what is the purpose of all these changes. There were rumours, especially, after the visit of Mr. Gromyko to Damascus, that the Syrians are perturbed lest Israel prepared an attack upon Syria. This is, as it always was, a completely baseless assumption. Our apprehension...it never occurred to us even to think about attacking Syria or anybody else. We want peace. But of course, when there are military movements, we have to be careful and to be on out guard. We are."
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Background: The Israeli Prime Minister, Mr. Menachem Begin, on Thursday (7 February) pledged military support for right-wing Christian groups if there's renewed fighting in Lebanon. The threat of renewed Israeli intervention in Lebanon has increased tension in the Middle East, against a background of Syria's redeployment of its 30-thousand troops in Lebanon. Mr. Begin spelled out Israel's attitude to the Foreign Press Association in Jerusalem on Thursday (7 February).