Israelis Skeptical About Worth of Egyptian-sponsored Mediation of Lebanon Crisis

Israeli experts on Arab affairs said today that Egypt’s effort to mediate the Lebanese crisis was little more than an attempt to assert Egyptian primacy in the Arab world. They said it was of slight importance because Egypt has committed itself in advance to the support of terrorist groups operating outside the so-called “progressive” Arab countries.

According to the Israeli sources, the guerrillas have agreed to mediation because they bow to Egyptian authority. But genuine mediation is not likely because the terrorists insist on freedom of action along the Israeli border with Lebanon and punishment of the Lebanese authorities responsible for the measures taken against them. If Lebanon agreed to such demands, it would mean the end of the Lebanese regime, and President Charles Helou is well aware of this possibility, the Israelis said.

According to informed Israelis, the majority of moderate Moslems in Lebanon are anxious to avoid a confrontation between the Christian elements, who comprise about half the country’s population, and the Palestinian guerrillas who are supported by extreme Moslems, some Druze tribes and young militants at the universities. The evaluation here, however, is that less extreme Moslems may be pulled into the pro-guerrilla camp against their will if the crisis continues.

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