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US-Israeli accord: a debate

The American-Israeli agreements are more significant for their symbolism than for substance, which, though not yet specified, clearly suggests a meeting of the minds as never before.

First, they put an end to the past year's bickering between the two countries , when one would have thought they were adversaries rather than friends. Happily , President Reagan and Prime Minister Shamir reconfirmed their ''longstanding bonds of friendship and cooperation'' and agreed to intensify them.

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Second, they signal the Arab world generally and Russia specifically that neither Israel nor America will be intimidated or divided by their military posturing or political threats of expanded turbulence in the Middle East. As Secretary of State Shultz told a meeting of Arab leaders in Morocco a few days ago, ''The United States has had, does have, and will have a strong relationship with Israel, and I think everyone understands that and should understand that.''

Third, they reflect America's disappointment, if not anger, with Syria for reneging on its promise to leave Lebanon and with Jordan and Saudi Arabia for their continuing refusal to support the Camp David accords or the Reagan peace proposals.

Fourth, they serve notice on Arab oil-producing countries - as well as the Soviet bloc - that American-Israeli friendship will not be weakened by any repetition of Arab oil embargoes or contrived UN resolutions critical of either or both.

Fifth, they underscore a fundamental belief by America and Israel that Lebanon must remain an independent nation, free of any foreign forces or intrigue.

Sixth, they implicitly reject the PLO as a ''moderate'' force, or the only representative of the Palestinian people - made all the more glaring by the PLO's own warfare.

Lastly, though not a mutual defense treaty, the agreements project a similarity, but not congruence, of American and Israeli national and regional concerns - a stable Middle East, free of radical Arab forces, an expansionist Syria, and a trouble-stirring Soviet Union, all of which necessitate joint American-Israeli consultations and cooperation.

Accordingly, separate commissions will be established to deal with joint military planning and exercises, as well as the stockpiling of US military equipment in Israel. The latter will be given more grant aid in 1985, enabling her to hasten the building of the Lavi fighter plane. Moreover, a free-trade area will be formed wherein trade barriers and tariffs will be lowered between the two countries.

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Such developments do not mean, as some political leaders in both countries fear, that either will serve as the other's surrogate, drawn into problems they want no part of. Rather, they suggest that the two countries will consult with each other and avert any unwelcome ''surprises.''

Of course, differences still exist over the West Bank settlements, the Golan Heights, Palestinian self-rule, and Reagan's peace proposals (allegedly not discussed by Reagan and Shamir), but an overriding consensus emerges: Lebanese and Middle East stability is most threatened by internal and inter-Arab politics and Russian expansionism.

The American-Israeli agreements must also be viewed against a growing recognition that Israel is the only dependable and effective ally in the region. After all, it was Israel which in 1970 prevented Syria from invading Jordan, just as today she prevents her from taking over all of Lebanon for a ''Greater Syria.''

Congressional support, too, has grown for Israel, as has disenchantment with ''moderate'' Arab countries who immoderately warn they will turn to the Soviet Union if America does not meet their desires. Thus, Congress voted $2.6 billion in aid grants and loans, opposed plane sales to Jordan, promised to cut payments to the UN if it voted to expel Israel, and urged Egypt to convert its ''cold peace'' with Israel into a warm one.

Yes, the new American-Israeli agreements augur well for both countries and for Middle East peace, at least in the foreseeable future. For Israel, they mean strengthened security and ability to help us. For America, they mean added support and protection of our national interests. For both, they ensure Mideast stability and a clear warning to Syrian expansionism, PLO terrorism, and Soviet adventurism.

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