JERUSALEM (Oct. 2)
Israel’s Chief of Staff, Rav-Aluf Zvi Tsur, gave a detailed report yesterday to the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee of Israel’s Parliament on the Syrian defection from the United Arab Republic, and the Israel-Syrian border situation.
While this report was presented, the new Syrian Government declared in a policy statement over the Damascus Radio that one of the aims of the new regime is “the restoration of the rights of Palestine Arabs.” At the same time, it applied for re-admission into the Arab League, emphasizing that it “respects the charter of the Arab League.”
The Israeli-Syrian border crossing, over the Bnot Yaacov bridge, in the north, was open for traffic again today for the first time since last week’s Syrian revolt against the United Arab Republic. A United Nations military observer crossed the bridge from Israel into Syria without incident.
While official quarters here refrain from comment, the prevailing opinion appears to be that the revolt brought little change with respect to Israel’s concern for the maintenance of border quiet. It is pointed out that the Syrians were not known for their observance of the armistice agreements even before the country’s unification with Egypt in 1958, and there was little reason to assume that the situation will be any different after the dissolution of the UAR.
It is feared here that the new Syrian regime, comprising elements similar to those in the pre-unification government, may now use Israel as a means of proving her “true Arab nationalism,” and also for diverting public attention from internal difficulties.
At the same time, however, it was emphasized that the revolt dealt a heavy blow to Nasser and forced upon him a more cautious line. From the wider strategic considerations, the dissolution of the United Arab Republic also broke up the unified military command which faced Israel from the north and the south, and strengthened the anti-Nasser camp within the Arab world.
The Syrian revolt came as no surprise to Israel, as it was known here that dissatisfaction in Syria had been growing. While the new Syrian government comprises to leftist elements, and appears to be leaning toward the West, observers here cautioned against drawing any premature conclusions regarding its ultimate line.