JERUSALEM (Mar. 2)
Reaction in Jerusalem has been basically negative to the proposal, now being energetically promoted by the Beirut government, for the stationing of United Nations forces in southern Lebanon. But, since the proposal so far is shrouded in mystery, no official comments have been made here. Government spokesmen merely say that Israel has been told nothing authoritatively about the Lebanese idea from any third party–and must therefore reserve all formal comment.
Informally, though, the firm line here is that the tension and fighting between Moslems and Christians in southern Lebanon is essentially an internal Lebanese situation which would be best solved by the establishment–or reestablishment–of an effective Lebanese fighting force under the Beirut government’s control and direction. UN forces were not required on the border area, well placed sources here argued, since there was no conflict or territorial dispute between the two states involved.
Observers here were speculating on President Elias Sarkiss’ possible intentions in mooting the proposal. His Foreign Minister has been canvassing it in meetings with the Big Four power ambassadors in Beirut. One theory is that the French might be behind the move. French Foreign Minister Louis de Guiringaud recently visited Beirut and Damascus. Under this theory, France would supply the bulk of a projected UN force and in that way play its long-desired active role in the Mideast areas of its former influence.
Another, less desirable possibility, is that the Beirut government wants a UN presence to absolve it from responsibility for future renewed terrorist incursions from southern Lebanon into Israel. Another possible calculation among Lebanese leaders appears to be that the UN, more-over, would impede Israeli reprisal actions.