Basis for the Rift Between the Druze Led by Jumblatt and the PLO

The open rift that has developed in Lebanon between the Druze led by Walid Jumblatt and the Palestine Liberation Organization is accountable in part at least, according to Israeli sources, to ongoing Israel contacts with, and pressure on, the Druze.

These sources, confirm that a number of PLO fighters have actually been ousted from the Shouf mountains by the Druze. They maintain that Israel’s stem warnings to Jumblatt, coupled with efforts to sympathize with legitimate Druze aspirations in the mountain area, have paid dividends.

The sources believe that Israel’s dialogue with the Druze — some high level meetings are understood to have taken place — have succeeded in bolstering Jumblatt’s readiness to strike a relatively independent pose vis-a-vis the Syrians.

Thus, for example, these sources say, Jumblatt’s men declined to take part in the fighting over the strategic town of Suk El-Gharb before last week’s cease-fire, and the attacks orchestrated by the Syrians, were carried out mainly by PLO units and other leftist elements.

The hope in Jerusalem is that the Druze will continue to dissociate themselves from the PLO and and to evict PLO men from their Souf strongholds.

ISRAEL MAINTAINING PRESSURE ON THE DRUZE

Meanwhile, Israel is maintaining its pressure on the Druze not to assault the last Christian enclave in the Shouf, the town of Dir El-Kamar, where some 40,000 Christians are living in a virtual state of siege.

Israeli officials have been active in the diplomacy that has facilitated passage into the beleaguered town of Red Cross convoys. Israel army patrols foraying northwards from the Awali River line deliberately come close to the town to underscore Israeli warnings that no massacre will be tolerated there.

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