Israeli Official Says Syria Not Interested in War with Israel

“Syria, which is led by an astute, patient and scheming man, is not interested in war with Israel, but through steady and unrelenting psychological and military pressure on the United States, hopes to bring about U.S. withdrawal from Lebanon and to abandon its alliance with Israel,” an Israeli diplomat said here.

Aryeh Levin, Deputy to Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Yehuda Blum, addressed the opening plenary session of the midwinter conference of the national board of Hadassah, meeting at the Concord Hotel.

“As for Israel, ” he said, “events have proven that its strategy to remove the PLO’s territorial base in Lebanon and to restore Lebanese independence has been essentially sound. In fact, the Syrians have played into Israel’s hands both during the battle of Beirut and, hopefully, in the definitive departure of the PLO terrorists from Tripoli.”

Furthermore, Levin explained that “the growing embarrassment of the presence of the multinational peacekeepers in and around Beirut is not of Isrel’s making and it is not Israel that should be expected to furnish the face-saving device for their withdrawal. Nor should the Lebanese Christians or Moslems expect Israel to provide them with their independence.”

DEVELOPMENTS IN JORDAN ASSESSED

Turning to the PLO and King Hussein, Levin said, “Now that the fangs of the PLO in Lebanon has been pulled by Israel and Syria combined, (PLO chief Yasir) Arafat is no more the awe-inspiring terrorist he was, and his control of the West Bank Arab notables is not as total. Hussein has reverted to his old experimentations with the Palestinian Arabs and has recalled his Parliament which was dismissed in 1974, where the majority of seats are in the hands of the Palestinians.

“Israel has not interfered in the realization that this new development — another fruit of the ‘Peace for Galilee’ operation — might be the dawning of greater reason in the Jordanian-Hashimite Camp, and, perhaps, even an opening for the negotiations provided for under the Camp David Agreements. A great deal more will have to be done before negotiations with Israel, Egypt and the U.S.”

Levin explained that “Hussein is fearful of Syria and of Libya and aware of what their money can buy in assassin’s wages. Perhaps he is also taking a risk, insofar as Israel is concerned, for he knows he would be looking forward to protracted negotiations with no great achievement in store for himself. He is trying to win Palestinian support and regain political presence in Judaea and Samaria that he had lost to the PLO. The radical Arabs are dead set against all this.

“In his possible confrontation with Syria, Hussein knows he will be supported by both Iraq and Saudi Arabia, although if it comes to an open military intervention by Syria, there is no one but Israel to bar the road to Hussein’s capital, Amman. What has added an additional sense of urgency to the new positions adopted by Hussein is the realization that time is not on his side.”

EGYPT HAS EMPTIED PEACE OF MEANING

As for Egypt, “it has not abandoned peace with Israel but it has emptied it of all meaning — save peace itself — which is important enough, ” Levin continued. “Egyptian delegates have been more out-spoken than those of any other Arab country against Israel at the UN; its press and media are reverting to their old Sturmer prose; their President has had an indecent exposure with Arafat; and they were humbly begging to be reinstated in the Arab League. They have now been welcomed back into the Islamic Conferemce.”

All of this is “perhaps, understandable even if it causes Israel tremendous uneasiness and anziety, “Levin observed. “Egypt cannot maintain its role as the biggest Arab nation — its punishment by ostracism for peace with Israel has been difficult for it to bear — but life has also become difficult for our bilateral relations: our Embassy in Cairo is isolated, and the fate of our great expectations in the Land of the Nile is not entirely clear.”

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