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Lebanon and the Marines

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How sad and ironic that in Lebanon confrontations have been taking place not only between adversaries but between Israeli and US soldiers. Indeed Americans will earnestly hope that new arrangements between Israel and the US will forestall the kind of incident in which a US Marine felt compelled to draw his pistol and prevent three Israeli tanks from entering an area believed under Marine control. But this and previous incidents point up the risk which US troops take as their stay in Lebanon is prolonged - and the need for stronger diplomatic efforts to get all foreign forces out of that embattled country.

Israel's concern about continuing guerrilla attacks in Lebanon is understandable. The PLO has been shattered but it has not been eliminated. Thirty Israeli soldiers have been killed and 183 injured since the war ended.Yet it is also true that, until the Israeli, Syrian, and remaining PLO forces pull out of Lebanon it is difficult to strengthen and extend the authority of the Lebanese Army and provide arrangements for ensuring security along the Lebanese-Israeli frontier.

In Washington's eyes, Israel has not been helpful in the Lebanese negotiations. US envoy Philip Habib has privately expressed frustration, as has President Reagan. In fact a certain Israeli feistiness in dealing with Americans is noticeable these days as the US is blamed for putting up obstacles to an agreement. Israeli Maj. Gen. Avraham Tamir recently declared in a negotiating session: ''Noboby is going to influence us on matters of our defense. We will do what we please.'' What pleases Israel is to keep Israeli troops in southern Lebanon. Such a posture perhaps makes for good politics in Israel but it does not help frayed US-Israeli relations.


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