JERUSALEM (Jun. 24)
Political sources here are concerned that the extreme reaction by Arab leaders to Israel’s bombing of terrorist bases in Lebanon may delay the start of the Geneva peace conference scheduled for autumn. Statements last week by Arab political leaders as well as comments in the leading Arab newspapers are seen here as part of a war of nerves intended to soften Israel’s position before the next round of talks begin.
The sources indicated that the talks were scheduled to resume in Geneva in the autumn after a period of relaxation in the Middle East which would build up a proper atmosphere for negotiations. However, the recent threats of military action against Israel from Cairo and Damascus indicated here that the two Arab capitals were not doing anything to cool down the area. Both Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres said that Israel would not make any additional peace moves unless she was convinced that Egypt and Syria really want to make constructive efforts for peace. A continuation of the new anti-Israeli attacks might therefore slow down the process to an overall settlement.
Gen. Mordechai Gur, Chief of Staff, indicated on the radio over the weekend that Israel will continue with the preemptive raids on terrorist camps despite the Arab protests. “Further action may be possible in the very near future,” he said. However, there were no Israeli attacks over the weekend. This was explained here as “wait and see attitude.” According to security sources, Israel now wants to see if Lebanon will act to halt terrorist operations from her territory. If so, Israel will cut down her action in Lebanese territory, according to the sources.