Behind the Headlines Mideast Tensions Evoke Concern, Relief

Concern and relief regarding Middle East developments are traveling on parallel lines here. The concern is over the difficulties that may ensue as a result of the reportedly many unpublicized understandings tied to the second-stage Israeli-Egyptian accord in the Sinai. The relief is felt at the growing certainty that the Arab bloc may not press for Israel’s ouster or suspension from the United Nations General Assembly in New York next month in view of widespread reaction against it.

Unofficial observers sympathetic to Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s current attempt to tie up a second Israeli withdrawal agreement this week feel that the ambiguities of the accord he is shaping are likely to bring storms when it is to be carried out. One termed the forthcoming agreement “a quick fix” that will, like the agreement on Vietnam, bring disagreements that ultimately will cause disaster rather than progress towards a full settlement.

Noting that “coming home with an agreement, however poor and false, seems to be a political requirement for some years now,” another observer noted, “We have to face up to this painful fact that deceivers succeed because there are too many who are willing to be deceived.”

URGING THAT SYRIA BE APPEASED

Accordingly, influential observers here are urging a continued drive by Kissinger to bring about a second Israeli withdrawal in the Golan Heights to appease Syria and then push for a full settlement in the area, including a state with the Palestine Liberation Organization in charge, at least temporarily.

Some think that Kissinger already has Israeli acquiescence for something for Syria and that before he leaves the Middle East he will broach the Palestinian situation to the Israelis. It is thought that in the current state of Israel’s utter dependence on the United States for financial, military and diplomatic support, it cannot deny Kissinger–and President Ford–their views, particularly with the Presidential election looming in the U.S. If Ford achieves the image of the Middle East peace-maker, his chances for retaining the Presidency would be immensely improved.

As progress towards the agreement increased, the specter of the Arab-led campaign with Communist and Third World support to drive Israel out of the UN is fading. Many countries that had been backing the Arabs, primarily because of their oil and potential investments abroad, are now saying that they will not vote to expel Israel as a matter of principle.

At the State Department, the suggestion is made that if an Israeli-Egyptian agreement is attained, then the campaign will collapse, But if there is no accord, the ouster proceeding will be renewed vigorously. To some it appeared the Department’s view is another means of pressuring Israel to reach a Sinai agreement and avoid embarrassment in New York next month when the UN General Assembly convenes.

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