JERUSALEM (Mar. 9)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban said last night that Israel was prepared to sign a peace treaty with Lebanon tomorrow on the basis of the present boundaries. But, he said, there was not much chance that Lebanon could make peace even though it has no basic quarrel with Israel. According to Mr. Eban, Beirut is a virtual captive of the other Arab states, shackled to their policies, particularly those of President Gamal Abdel Nasser, of Egypt. Mr. Eban spoke at the 81st annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic arm of American Reform Judaism. His remarks were made as a new crisis simmered along the Lebanese border resulting from increased terrorist activities in that sector and Israel’s retaliatory raid Saturday which destroyed five houses in Alta es Shab village said to have been used by terrorists.
Beirut meanwhile seemed to be heading for a new showdown with Palestinian guerrilla bands on its territory and the guerrillas themselves were split into radical and more moderate camps. Terrorist activities along the Lebanese border have spread from the eastern part of the frontier to the sensitive western coastal region. This has brought sharp warnings from Israel to authorities in Beirut, conveyed through the United Nations truce supervision forces. Alarmed Beirut authorities have requested support from the four major powers–United States, Soviet Russia, Britain and France. They have also reportedly demanded that the guerrillas adhere to an agreement reached in Cairo last Nov. 6 between the Lebanese military commander, Gen. Emil Bustany, and Yasser Arafat, chief of El Fatah.
The agreement permitted guerrillas to use certain infiltration routes into Israel from Lebanon but forbade them from firing on Israel from Lebanese territory. These terms are reportedly observed by El Fatah but not by the adherents of the smaller, more radical guerrilla groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Syrian-sponsored Al Saiqa. Syria has warned meanwhile that it would act “strongly and firmly against any attempts to suppress the Palestinian commando movement.” Syrian intervention was partly responsible for the near civil war that broke out in Lebanon last October and was ended by the Nov. 6 truce in Cairo. Authoritative sources said here today that Israel has received no warning from France regarding possible action by Israel against Lebanon. Beirut radio claimed today that such a warning had been sent to Israel through diplomatic channels.