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Behind the Headlines Concern over UN Action on Lebanon

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Two elements of serious concern emerged here over the Security Council’s resolution calling for an Israeli pullout of south Lebanon and the creation of a United Nations peace-keeping force there. The immediate apprehension is that the UN force, as envisaged by the Security Council, will be incapable of preventing terrorists from returning to south Lebanon.

A longer range concern is that the Carter Administration’s unseemly haste in pushing for the resolution created a precedent that will permit the U.S. to take similar actions in the future without prior consultation with Israel.

Dismay was expressed here that the terms of reference for the new UN force, as reported to the Security Council by Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, envisages a body similar to the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai and the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights. These forces are not provided with armor and are under orders not to shoot except in self-defense.

Observers here doubt that such a force can deal with the heavily armed Palestinian terrorists. It is also feared here that the UN force will disarm the Lebanese Christians who have been Israel’s allies throughout the two years of civil war in Lebanon. Israel, for its part, wants the Christians recognized as the nucleus of an all-Lebanese policing force in south Lebanon.

SEE U.S. CREATING A PRECEDENT

Observers also believe that American sponsorship of the UN resolution without prior exhaustive consultations with Israel was a forewarning of what Premier Menachem Begin could expect in his meetings with President Carter. They feel that Carter acted deliberately to demonstrate that he will not be hamstrung by pro-Israel forces in Congress. The observers believe furthermore that the Administration saw the Lebanese situation as an opportunity to set the precedent of creating a UN interim force without Israel’s prior approval.

Such a precedent might be useful in the West Bank context in the future, they pointed out, should serious rioting break out on the West Bank or new military tension develop between Israel and Jordan. Washington could use such developments as the pretext for creating another UN force to police Israel’s eastern borders, they said, rendering academic the dispute over the applicability of Security Council Resolution 242 to the West Bank.

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