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Israel Faces Dilemma over Lebanon

Israel faces a serious dilemma over the situation in Lebanon on the eve of the Camp David summit meeting. Israel is publicly committed to helping the Christians in Lebanon if the Syrians attack them, as Israel believes Syria plans to do. But any Israeli military intervention could destroy the chances of success at Camp David.

High Israeli defense officials were continuing to study today how Israel can help the Christians in Lebanon. These talks are continuation of a meeting late Tuesday night between Premier Menachem Begin and other top Israeli officials and a non-Israeli official who some have speculated was Camille Chamoun, the former President of Lebanon, who is now head of the Lebanese Front, a coalition of Christian parties. Israeli sources have maintained a total silence over the identity of the visitor.

Israel’s belief that Syria plans to attack the Christians in the Beirut area despite a ceasefire signed Aug. 12 is based on reports that one-third of the Syrian army is in Lebanon and there are some 200 Syrian tanks in the Beirut area alone. There are reports that the Syrians will launch their attack just prior to the Camp David meeting. Syria strongly opposes Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s efforts at reaching an accommodation with Israel.

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