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DATE=2/10/2000 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=LEBANON RAID / ARAB REACT NUMBER=5-45427 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=CAIRO CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: The Israeli raids in Lebanon have drawn widespread condemnation from leaders in the Arab world, and concern among political analysts that the military action may further harm the stalled peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. V- O-A Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from our Middle East Bureau in Cairo. TEXT: Arab condemnation of the Israeli raids on Lebanon has been swift and sharp. The Secretary- General of the Arab League, Esmat Abdel-Meguid, calls it a criminal act that violates all international laws. /// ABDEL-MEGUID ACT /// That's a terrible action taken by the Israeli government. It's responsible for committing this crime. They are occupying Lebanese territory and we must be clear that the Lebanese are entitled to defend their territory against any occupation. /// END ACT/// The condemnation by the Arab League has been echoed by the Islamic Organization and the governments of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria, among others. All express outrage over the attacks against civilian targets in Lebanon and call on the international community to pressure the Israeli government to stop them. The raids came after a number of Israeli soldiers in recent days were killed in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah guerrillas, who are backed by Syria. Analysts in the region view the raids as a dangerous escalation. They say this action has ended the Arab good will toward Prime Minister Ehud Barak that followed his election last year after three years of confrontation under the government of Benjamin Netanyahu. A political science professor at the American University of Cairo, Mona Makram-Ebeid, says the raids come as a blow to the hope that Prime Minister Barak would be different from his predecessor. /// FIRST MAKRAM-EBEID ACT /// (Prime Minister) Barak, whom everyone wanted to see as a different person than (former Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu, what we are seeing is he is talking peace and he is acting brutal. So there is a great deal of consternation and anxiety, and also a great deal of anger. ///END ACT/// Another political science professor at the American University of Cairo, Professor Walid Kazziha, says one reason behind the Israeli show of force is domestic pressure from Israeli public opinion and members of Mr. Barak's coalition government. Professor Kazziha acknowledges Mr. Barak needs political support to stay in power, but he says he should prepare his constituency for the sacrifices that will be needed to make headway in the peace negotiations. /// FIRST KAZZIHA ACT /// I think [Mr.] Barak did not do his homework with his own constituency. I think he's not leading that constituency as much as he is being led by it. /// END ACT /// Many Arab observers believe the main reason for the show of force in southern Lebanon is to pressure Syria to make concessions in the peace negotiations, which resumed last month after a three-year break. Observers note the conflict in southern Lebanon was relatively subdued while Syria and Israel were talking, but escalated after these talks collapsed. /// OPT /// Professor Makram-Ebeid says the escalation in southern Lebanon is an Israeli tactic to draw concessions from Syria, which has demonstrated some influence over Hezbollah. /// SECOND MAKRAM-EBEID ACT/// They (the Israelis) are using the withdrawal from Lebanon as a pressure card on the Syrian negotiations, which of course the Arab parties are not prepared to accept. /// END ACT /// Prime Minister Barak is under pressure from Israeli public opinion to withdraw Israeli troops from southern Lebanon. And during his campaign he said if necessary he would do so unilaterally, that is without a peace agreement with Lebanon and Syria. Professor Kazziha says Israel should realize, however, that a unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon will not end the confrontation. /// SECOND KAZZIHA ACT /// The key to withdrawal from Lebanon is the Golan Heights, is Damascus. And if he simply withdraws from south Lebanon, he will be pursued by Hezbollah and others will be encouraged too, and he will be in a worse mess perhaps than he is in today. /// END ACT /// /// END OPT /// Professor Makram-Ebeid says if the escalation continues it could spell the end of the Middle East peace process, which is already stalled by a deadlock in Israeli negotiations with Syria and the Palestinians. Professor Kazziha says, however, the dynamics of the confrontation in southern Lebanon may help Israel and Hezbollah hammer out a compromise, like the one four years ago that ended attacks against civilians. Or he says it may bring Israel to the realization that the only solution is to withdraw from the Golan Heights. At the moment, however, the escalation in southern Lebanon is raising concern, not hope, for the Middle East peace process. (Signed) NEB/SB/GE/gm 10-Feb-2000 15:56 PM EDT (10-Feb-2000 2056 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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