TEL AVIV (May. 19)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin appears to be at odds, with Defense Minister Shimon Peres over the emphasis the latter has placed on the massing of Jordanian troops and armor near Israel’s eastern, borders. While the fact of the Jordanian military build-up, the first of its kind since 1970, is not in doubt, there are differences of opinion within the government over whether the matter should have been given the prominence it was by Peres when he toured Jordan Valley settlements last week,.
Rabin and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon are said to have preferred that the matter be played down both for diplomatic reasons and to avoid increasing tension in Israel. A tour of the Jordan Valley by Israeli military correspondents was called off on orders from the Premier. Government officials, Peres included, have said that the Jordanian intentions are unclear. Peres linked the build-up to the recent announcement of “cooperation” between Amman and Damascus but reported no evidence that Syrian forces have entered Jordan–a move the Jordanians would not be likely to welcome.
Rabin reportedly believes that Israel’s adversaries, including Egypt and Jordan, are interested in heightening tension in the Middle East before President Anwar Sadat’s meeting with President Ford in Salzburg June 1-2, thereby hoping to gain a political advantage, Sadat visited Jordan last week and King Hussein’s intention may have been to impress him with the fact that Jordan is ready to participate in a new war with Israel. Meanwhile, their fortification work and troop buildups are continuing.
SECURITY MEASURES ALONG LEBANESE BORDER
But Israeli security forces were most active last week along the Lebanese frontier in the north. Extensive precautionary measures were taken in Upper Galilee to prevent possible terrorist assaults on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of Israel’s independence last Thursday and the Shavuot holiday that followed.
A broad security belt was established parallel to the Lebanese border and Israeli units, supplied with list of suspected terrorists and terrorist collaborators, combed the region on both sides of the border. Eight suspects were brought into Israel last week for questioning but all have since been released and returned to Lebanon.
The security measures are credited with having kept the northern regions quiet over the holidays, at least until this morning. An Israeli patrol shot and killed a man observed cutting through a security fence on the border early today. He was identified as an Israeli Arab who was apparently trying to enter Lebanon.