DETROIT -- Former President Jimmy Carter has accused Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin of shielding the truth about the massacre of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon.
'It's one of the most tragic events of my lifetime to have a slaughter (in Lebanon) of innocent and defenseless men, women and children,' Carter said.
'I think that Prime Minister Begin has made a terrible mistake in not demanding a complete investigation of this massacre of innocent people.
Carter spoke to reporters on his arrival Thursday several hours before Begin bent to international pressure and ordered the Israeli Supreme Court president to start an investigation.
'He's (Begin's) been the obstructing force, he and (Israeli Defense) Minister (Ariel) Sharon, in preventing the truth being known. And I think that for Israel and even for us (the U.S.) indirectly, this is a very serious mistake.'
But the former president declined to say whether he thinks Begin should resign.
'I think this tragedy over a period of months has demonstrated again how important the Camp David agreement is as a foundation for peace, because it opens up an avenue by which the Israelis, the Jordanians, the Syrians, the Egyptians and the Palestinians can negotiate along with us to find peace and to realize the security of Israel and the legitimate rights of Palestinians.'
Carter, in Detroit to visit Mayor Coleman Young and raise funds for a presidential library and peace counseling center in Georgia, said he supported President Reagan's decision to send 800 Marines to Lebanon as part of a multi-national force.
Carter planned to meet today with Michael Blumenthal, chairman of Burroughs Corp., and his former Treasury Secretary; Alonzo McDonald Jr., president of the embattled Bendix Corp.; Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca and representatives of two foundations he did not name.