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December 01, 1984 - Image 4

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1984-12-01

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0

OPINION

Page 4

Saturday, December 1, 1984

The Michigan Daily

0

The

state

of

Israeli foreign relations.

Wolf Blitzer, the Washington Bureau
Chief for the Jerusalem Post, was in Ann
Arbor this past week and spoke with Daily
associate editor Thomas Miller about the
current state of U. S. -Israeli relations.
Daily: It has been two-and-a-half years since
the Israelis moved into Lebanon. Do you think
they've accomplished their basic goals?
Blitzer: Well, the immediate goal as initially
stated by the Israeli government, to secure a
zone in southern Lebanon about 25 miles from
which terrorists could no longer threaten
Israel, at least in the immediate future has
been accomplished. The PLO has been
uprooted from South Lebanon and their former
positions have been destroyed. Yasir Arafat
and his supporters have been disbanded and
removed from Lebanon and they're in various
Arab countries right now struggling to survive,
especially in the aftermath of the Syrian op-
position to Yasir Arafat and Syria's effort to
find an alternative PLO leadership. But the
greater geo-political and strategic objective
which some Israeli cabinet ministers appeared
to have supported have clearly not been
achieved. Creating a pro-Israeli, Christian
dominated Lebanon with which Israel could
sign a peace treaty for example-I think hopes
for that type of development were dashed when
Basir Gemayel was assassinated in September
1982. Things quickly started to deteriorate for
Israel in Beirut. There is peace in the Galilee
today, but it's a peace that's been achieved at a
tremendous cost-not only materially, but in
terms of human lives. Over 600 Israeli soldiers
have been killed over the past two-and-a-half
years in Lebanon and there's been a tremen-
dous debate going on within Israel. So looking
on the balanced ledger, the results from the
war, from the Israeli perspective, are at best
quite mixed.
Daily : What's the next step for Israel?
Blitzer: The next step for Israel as defined by
the new National Unity government is to try to
get out of Lebanon completely as quickly as
possible. Israel has about 10,000 soldiers
remaining in the southern part of Lebanon.
Israel is very anxious to remove those soldiers,
but to do so in a way that guarantees the
security of Israel's northern towns and
villages. That is not easy. Israel is currently
negotiating directly with the Lebanese at
Naquara, but it's also negotiating indirectly
with the Syrians through all sorts of inter-

mediaries. My sense is this is going to be a very
difficult, prolonged negotiation, but that it is
clearly achievable. Perhaps in six months, or
nine months, maybe even a year, some sort of
agreement will be reached which will enable
Israeli forces to leave and a combination of
Lebanese Army, South Lebanese Army, and
United Nation's peacekeeping forces to
protect Israel's northern border.
Daily: During the last four years of the
It is obvious that the
United States can improve
its relations with other
Arab countries without
necessarily weakening its
relationship with Israel,'
Reagan Administration, have U.S.-Israeli
relations improved?
Blitzer: Yes, Israeli relations during the first
four years of the Reagan period have clearly
improved. There've been some differences, of
course, but this is a normal feature of U.S.-
Israeli relations. Fundamentally the curve has
moved in an upward direction, and I think it's
fair to say that U.S.-Israeli relations are better
than ever. If you use economic relations,
military relations, cultural ties, diplomatic
ties, clearly the relationship is very strong
today, and in my opinion, will continue to be
strong and will continue to get stronger
because it fundamentally serves both coun-
tries' national interest.
Daily: Aside from the strategic military
aspects, what does the United States stand to
gain through improved ties to Israel.
Blitzer: Well, it's clear that America is very
very concerned with promoting democracies
around the world. In a world where there are
increasingly few genuine democracies, the
United States can look to Israel as one of them.
Israel is a stable country which will be close to
the United States irrespective of a labor-led
government or a Likud government. So I guess
that's another benefit. And there are a whole
range of cultural ties and moral committments

eminating from the birth of Israel out of the
ashes of the Holocaust. There is such a closely-
knit fabric of relations that I guess it's become
a given within the foreign policy decision-
making process in Washington. Needless to
say, Israel has always been blessed with a
strong reservoir of American domestic
political support. That type of support is an im-
portant restraint on any administration which
may want to go too far in leaning on Israel, or
whatever. So there are many reasons why the
U.S.-Israeli relationship has grown so much
over the past 36 years. My sense is that even
though there will be differences from time to
time, occasionally serious differences on gut
issues, the relationship is going to continue to
improve.
Daily: What do you think have been the most
serious differences between the United States
and Israel in the past four years?
Blitzer: Well, clearly there's a difference on
what the final shape of the settlement involving
the West Bank and Gaza should be. The United
States under the Carter administration, and
even during the Reagan administration, has
been promoting a more far-reaching Israeli
territorial withdrawal than either the former
Likud government or even this new National
Unity government could support, and that's a
fundamental difference. It's been put on the
backburner for the time being, because there's
no really serious Arab-Israeli peace
negotiations underway right now. Another dif-
ference, a key difference, and a traditional
strain on the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been
Washington's desire to sell sophisticated arms
to Saudia Arabia and several of the other Arab
states. Israel sees this as a threat and has
almost always opposed these types of sales.
That's been a thorn in the side of the relation-
ship. It will, in my opinion be brought into focus
in the coming months as the Reagan ad-
ministration moves ahead with a very, very
large arms package to Saudia Arabia,
probably Jordan and several other Arab
nations in the Persian Gulf. This will generate
some strong opposition in Congress. It will
automatically spill over and have some impact
in hurting the U.S.-Israeli relationship. But I
don't think it will be a fatal blow. I realize it will
create some strains but there have been
strains in the past-the AWACs fight in 1981,
and the Carter administration's F-15 package
to Saudi Arabia back in 1978. So this is not a
new development, but is something that
irritates the relationship.

Daily: Israel has been successful in disper-
sing the PLO but what type of threat does the
PLO now pose for Israel?
Blitzer: It's arguable whether the PLO was
ever a hard military threat. There was always
a terrorist threat and there were many
terrorist incidents over the years. In terms of
a conventional military threat along the lines of
a genuine armed force like Syria, Egypt, or
Jordan, the PLO, I don't think, ever represen-
ted a threat. There is a political threat because
the PLO is still regarded by many Palestinians
and other Arabs as the spokesman for the
Palestinians. As a result, the PLO does still
command some authority. But in the aftermath
of the war in Lebanon, the destruction of the
PLO's geographic infrastructure in Lebanon,
the PLO has suffered a very serious setback.
And now in the aftermath of this Syrian-led
struggle against Yasir Arafat, there is even
more of a threat to the current composition of
the PLO. But the PLO is more of a political
threat to Israel because it tries to undermine
worldwide support for Israel.
Daily: The United States and Iraq have
recently reestablished relations. What kind of
effect do you think this will have on U.S.-Israeli
relations?
Blitzer: I was at the White House when
Reagan met with Iraqi foreign minister
Tarikaziz. Afterwards there was a briefing in
the White House press office by a senior ad-
ministration official who told us the new
relationship would have no effect whatsoever
on U.S.-Israeli relations and he went out of his
'Everyone says this is a
cold peace, but a cold
peace is better than a hot
war.'
way to underline the fact that U.S.-Israeli
relations are better today than ever. It is ob-
vious that the United States can improve its
relations with other Arab countries without
necessarily weakening its relationship with
Israel. If Iraq is moving towards a more
moderate, reasonable stance vis a vis the

Arab-Israeli conflict, I'm sure Israel will
welcome this development and will not see it as
some sort of threat to Israel. I think there have
been a few promising signs eminating from
Bhagdad not so much because of Israel, but
because of Iraq's own problems in its four-year
war with Iran. The Iraqis are increasingly
removing themselves from the image of a
front-line Arab state fighting against israel for
the Palestinians. Iraq is now moving toward a
very secondary level in this struggle. As far as
Israel's concerned, this is a positive develop-
ment.

6

Daily: What are the chances for a long term
peace in the Middle East in the coming years?
Blitzer: The Arab-Israeli conflict has been
going on now for many, many decades and
there are no quick-fix, overnight solutions. It's
a very,very complex problem. In the long run
looking over many years, yes, I think that
people in that part of the world will come to
grips with reality and live and let live. And cer-
tainly, the achievement of peace between
Israel and Egypt is a tremendous development.
Unfortunately, it hasn't warmed things up as
much as everyone would have liked. But Egypt
and Israel are still in a state of peace, they
maintain diplomatic relations and their bor-
ders are still open. Everyone says this is a cold
peace, but a cold peace is better than a hot war.
I would like to see it expand to include all of
Israel's neighbors, but that is not going to be
easy. I would not expect any breakthroughs in
the immediate future, given some of the other
problems going on in the Middle East. There
are tensions like the spread of Islamic fun-
damentalism, the preoccupation with war in
the Gulf, and the fact that King Hussein of Jor- 6
dan, even though he may personally be willing
to have a dialogue with Israel, recognizes that
not only would his political survival be in
danger but his physical survival as well if he
were to negotiate. He's in a very rough
situation, so he has to act very cautiously as he
always has over the years. Without King
Hussein getting involved and representing the
Palestinians, there will be no real Reagan
peace initiative because it would be predicated
on the assumption that King Hussein would
represent the Palestinians. He's been afraid to
do it. So there are some genuine problems, but
I'm an optimist and I sense that over
years-and unfortunately people get killed in
the meantime-over many years, this problem
will work itself out, one way or another.

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

Vol. XCV, No. 71

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

The unknown threat

T he University's project engineer
overseeing the Lorch Hall
renovations owes office workers in that
building an explanation of why he
chose not to inform them that asbestos
insulation was being removed from
pipes. Also of concern to those who
may have been exposed to the fibrous
mineral, no matter how low the dose, is
the question of why the testing for ex-
posure levels was done three weeks af-
ter the construction and not directly
following the work.
.Tests taken three weeks after the
work was completed showed that
levels of exposure were well below the
legal standards set by the government.
This, however, does not excuse the of-
ficials responsible for not adequately
informing building employees of their
activities. Several office workers said
they experienced headaches and one
said she noticed that her throat and
skin became dry and that she began to
sneeze. These effects may not have
been due to an exposure to asbestos,

but then again, they may have.
Because the University did not prom-
ptly test the exposure levels, the office
workers have reason to complain.
Environmental and industrial health
officials say they doubt that a few
weeks' exposure to the substance could
lead to health problems and caution
about becoming overly concerned.
Asbestos has been linked to several
forms of cancer but only at high and
persistent levels of exposure.
The odds are low that any of the
people in Lorch Hall will have long
term health problems due to the
minute levels registered in the later
tests. That doesn't mean the Univer-
sity officials shouldn't have bothered
to inform the building's inhabitants.
Any carcinogen exposure raises
legitimate fears in people's minds.
University officials responsible for
the asbestos removal should have
shown more sensitivity to the issue. In
the future, adequate notice to em-
ployees and prompt tests for exposure
levels should be expected.

i

h

LETTERS TO THE DAILY
SPOCK not at fault for low turnout

\ A Wfs$ui\
iE1I i 51wC
k"E . S N

To the Daily:
The LSA-SG has a lot of nerve
blaming SPOCK for the low voter
turnout in last week's election.
We at SPOCK experienced first-
hand the ineptitude of the SAID-
headed government inrunning
the election. We were informed
twice that a single candidate
could run for more than one office
at the same time. After the filing
deadline, the government
decided this was not legal and we
had to withdraw candidates

obvious that the SAID gover-
nment was more interested in
getting its party reelected than
with promoting the election.
Otherwise, more 'Vote' and less
'Vote SAID' posters would have
been so visible on campus.
Regardless as to the outcome,
the real winners of this year's
election were the 90 percent of
BLOOM COUNTY

LSA students who turned out in
droves not to vote. They ob-
viously realized how little the
LSA-SG meant to them or, better

yet, they didn't know it existed at
all.
-Eric Shapir4
November 21

Unsigned editorials appearing on the left side of
this page represent a majority opinion of the
Daily's Editorial Board.
by Berke Breathed

I

i

Yfla WO(/tpNT AIL ANY 1

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