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Lebanese Says Jordan Has Replaced PLO in West Bank Considerations

A youthful southern Lebanese specialist in Arab politics told American newsmen here Friday that Jordan has replaced the Palestine Liberation Organization in West Bank considerations.

Fouad Ajami, an assistant professor of politics at Princeton University, said the Arab states resolution in Rabat in 1974 that established the PLO as representing Palestinians everywhere has been “superseded” by events in the Middle East. “The important change in Arab politics,” he said, “is that the PLO now can be pushed aside.” He attributed this largely to the PLO’s disaster in Lebanon and Israel’s refusal to deal with it, which in turn affected U.S. policy.

“King Hussein is back in the game as the trustee of the West Bank and will be the negotiator for the West Bank,” Ajami said at a breakfast meeting with correspondents sponsored by “Foreign Policy” magazine. The PLO is “out,” he contended and this will become apparent within “the next few months.” It is now being “soft-pedaled” in Arab politics. “The PLO knows that,” he said.

Ajami was expanding on his article in the current issue of Foreign Policy in which he held that “a trilateral order” consisting of Syrio, Saudi Arabia and Egypt” has come to prevail in Arab politics” in the wake of the Yom Kippur War. The Arab triangle members are at “different stages of political evolution and no common ideology can establish consensus among them,” but it has “a balance and a logic of its own.”

In his view, “no other group of countries in the Arab world can match the combined influence of those three states,” with the Saudis having the wealth from oil; Egypt the military might and cultural center; and Syria, the militancy for Arab nationalism. Focusing on current developments, Ajami said he believed that should Israel allow Jordan to phase in the West Bank and “do something” on the Golan Heights, such as demilitarization, Syria will be satisfied.

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