Courtesy Reuters

The Middle East: A Turning Point?: An Israeli-Palestinian Peace

Given the summer's immersion in day-to-day death and destruction in Lebanon, we need to begin putting the Israeli-Palestinian War of 1982 in larger perspective. For better or worse, it will mark a turning point in the history of Israel, in the course of Arab-Israeli relations, in U.S.-Israeli relations, in the political character and orientation of important Middle Eastern states, and in the U.S. position in that critical area.

To understand the significance of the war, it is necessary first to assess what Israel set out to accomplish by sending its forces into Lebanon. As is usual in almost any war, it had both immediate war aims and ultimate political objectives; although the two usually overlap, and did in this case, it is useful to distinguish between them.

The initially stated Israeli war aim was to clear a zone in southern Lebanon of weapons and fighters within reach of northern Israel. This war aim-"Peace for Galilee"-was understandable in view of past attacks on Israel's northern communities and the growing stockpile of Palestinian equipment in the region.

Within a few days, as Israeli forces moved rapidly north to lay siege to Beirut, Israel's stated war aims were expanded to include the eviction from Lebanon of the military presence and political headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization. This aim had a plausible basis as part of protecting Israel's physical security; it also conformed to the widespread desire of most Lebanese to be rid of the disruptive PLO apparatus there.

Even before the move north, the Israeli air force carried out sharp and effective attacks on Syrian antiaircraft batteries, engaging and destroying Syrian aircraft as well. These operations plainly reflected an objective of neutralizing Syrian forces and in the process discrediting Soviet assistance and equipment.

It also became evident that Israel had objectives in terms of the political structure of Lebanon itself. At a minimum, it sought to preserve and enlarge an Israeli-dominated buffer zone in southern Lebanon. Moreover, Israeli authorities

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