'Think tank' charts Israeli strategy
Tel Aviv, Israel
Israel's foremost think-tank crew tends toward brinkmanship and confrontation policies at the global level -- but favors compromise and conciliation in dealing with neighboring Arab states.
Analyzing such problems as the Soviet thrust into Afghanistan and the East-West balance of power in the Persian Gulf and East Africa, members of Tel Aviv University's Center for Strategic Studies advocate, for example, a variety of "dirty tricks" by United States Central Intelligence Agency personnel.
They also recommend propping up of "safe" revolutionary leaders to stave off pro-Soviet ones. And they vigorously support stationing the proposed US Rapid Deployment Force (RDF) in the Middle East for instant military responses to Soviet-backed challenges.
The strategic studies group depicts the Soviet Union as a ruthless opponent capable of supporting both sides of a regional conflict simultaneously -- South and North Yemen, for example -- if only to assure the entrenchment of Russian influence in both camps, thereby undermining the security of Saudi Arabia.
At a recent session here the center's US-trained Nimrod Novik suggested that the US exploit it projected role as the main component of the future multinational peace-keeping force in Sinai to deposit vast stores of ammunition, weapons, and logistical material at Sharm el Sheikh for swift use by the RDF.
But when the center's director, Israeli reserve Maj. Gen. Aharon Yariv, addressed himself to the prospect of autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the hawkish approach gave way to that of the Israeli doves.
The former chief of Israeli military intelligence recommended that Israel offer to grant self-determination to the Palestinians and to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) if the PLO removed all anti-Israel articles from its "Palestinian covenant."
His underlying theme was that this is the best time for Israel to strike a deal, and that procrastination inevitably will result in worse term being forced on the Jewish state by a US government that is likely to be less sympathetic or patient once the presidential election is out of the way.
General Yariv pointed out that until the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt, Israel maintained a "no alternative" stance in the face of hostile Arab neighbors -- a policy that forced Israel's dependence on American aid.
The present era of "reluctant acceptance" by at least one neighboring country (Egypt), he went on, is "worth the risks" that concessions regarding the Palestinians may require.
The next country to join the peace process, though not in the near future, was expected to be Jordan, Israel's neighbor to the east, it was explained.
At present, according to Brig. Gen. Aryeh Shalev, "King Hussein prefers the status quo" to the Camp David version of Palestinian autonomy, which eventually could threaten his Hashemite Kingdom.
Jordan wants to control the proposed West Bank-Gaza Strip autonomy, or else would rather not see it come into existence, General Shalev said. He predicted the PLO would be dissatisfied with a "mini-Palestine" and try to expand eastward or westward -- probably with Soviet help.
General Shalev feels that the key factor in the PLO opposition to autonomy is failure of the Camp David agreement to state self-determination for Palestinians as the final goal.
He presented a scenario in which Israel would offer the Palestinians self-determination, the PLO would thereby reduce its opposition, and Jordan would enter into negotiations over the home-rule plan with the US, Israel, and Egypt.
General Shalev favors the Egyptian suggestion of two years ago, proposing that autonomy be attempted first in the Gaza Strip, where Egyptian political presence is potentially strong and the PLO influence is relatively weak.