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Report Arens Orders Reassessment of Israel’s Attitude Toward the Warring Factions in Lebanon

Defense Minister Moshe Arens was reported today to have ordered a reassessment of Israel’s attitude toward the warring factions in Lebanon.

According to Israel Radio’s political correspondent, Arens decided that Israel will not continue to rely entirely upon the Christian Phalangists, the party of Lebanese President Amin Gemayel, but would seek to open and maintain relations with the Lebanese Druze who are considered to have a stronger motivation than the Christians. Israel has a large Druze population of its own which is becoming increasingly restive as their Lebanese brethren battle the Christians.

According to the correspondent, the U.S. is displeased by Arens’ switch. But the argument here is that Israel must give first priority to its own security.

ATTITUDE OF ISRAEL’S CHRISTIAN ARABS

The attitude of Israel’s Arab Christian community is also cause for concern. Israeli Christian leader Ibrahim Sama’an, asked by an Israel Radio reporter why his people have not spoken out more firmly against the killing of Christians in Lebanon, replied that Israeli Christians were in a “difficult and special situation.” He explained that inside Lebanon “the Christians are fighting against our fellow Palestinians.”

He added that it would be wrong to introduce elements of the Lebanon war into Israel. He criticized Israeli Druze for announcing their wish to fight alongside the Druze in Lebanon. Sama’an said that many Arab Christians in Israel feel that Israel, which went to war in Lebanon to support Lebanese Christians, now is doing little to help them. “There is a feeling among some Israeli Christians that Israel cannot be trusted,” he said. The Israeli operation in Lebanon may still be a subject of debate.

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