Sanctuary and Survival:
The PLO in Lebanon
Boulder: Westview Press, 1990
by Rex Brynen
3) Rising Tensions (1969-75)
Despite the generally uncoordinated, ad hoc character of fida'iyyin responses to the crisis, the showdown between the Palestinian movement and Lebanese government had indicated some of the bases upon which future PLO policy in Lebanon would be established. Specifically, the terms of the Cairo Agreement brought two important strategies to bear on the problems of Palestinian-Lebanese relations: communication and restraint, manifest in the agreement's provisions for coordination and some restriction of guerrilla activities respectively.
Yet it was equally clear from the course of the crisis that neither of these strategies had played the major role in enabling the Palestinian movement to not only resist attempts by the Lebanese authorities to constrain their activities, but ultimately to secure official endorsement of fida'iyyin activity. Instead, internal alliances with the various parties comprising the Lebanese National Movement, and external alliances with supportive Arab states (especially Syria and Egypt), had proven paramount. Given the mass popularity of the fida'iyyin in Lebanese public opinion and the equal importance of the Palestinian cause in the rest of the Arab world, both seemed firm foundations upon which PLO policy in Lebanon could be based. Yet at the same time, internal and external alliances also tied the PLO's position in Lebanon firmly to the unstable dynamics of Lebanese and regional politics. As a result, the PLO's position in Lebanon would prove highly sensitive both to local political developments and to the shifting sands of inter-Arab and Arab-Israeli diplomacy and conflict.
From Cairo to Verdun
Implementing the Cairo Agreement
Despite a clash between guerrillas (reportedly from al-Sa'iqa) and the Lebanese Army at Nabatiyya on November 21, both Lebanon and the PLO seemed determined that implementation of the Cairo Agreement would proceed smoothly. Within a week the fida'iyyin had withdrawn from the positions they had occupied during the crisis in northern and eastern Lebanon, although they did retain a sizable presence in the camps and in the south. A Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon was established by the PLO to serve as a coordinating mechanism with the government. Weekly meetings between the two sides were instituted. Signifying the importance placed by the PLO leadership on the Committee and on maintenance of the Cairo Agreement, a senior Fateh leader and member of the PLO Executive Committee, Muhammad al-Najjar, was appointed to head it.
The potential for difficulties in PLO-Lebanese relations in the immediate aftermath of the Cairo Agreement was greatly eased by the presence of Kamal Junblat in Karami's new cabinet. Junblat was appointed Minister of the Interior, and as such was responsible for regulating the guerrilla presence in the country. He soon announced a series of measures designed to implement the recently-negotiated accord, relax tensions, and minimize the chances of Israeli reprisals. In December, restrictions were placed on fida'iyyin funerals. The following month the firing of weapons in the air, bearing of arms or wearing of uniforms in urban areas were banned. The guerrillas were also forbidden to fire weapons across the border with Israel, and asked to keep their camps and military positions at least one kilometer away from towns and villages. Two guerrilla offices were closed with the introduction of new guidelines for the operation and location of such facilities. Heavy weapons and other installations were banned in some areas. Following meetings between Palestinian liaison officers and their Lebanese counterparts, the Lebanese Army issued memoranda on January 27 and 28 setting forth operating procedures for the central and western sectors of the frontier and for the coordination of reconnaissance and military operations from Lebanese territory. Arrangements were also made to reintroduce a Lebanese police presence in and around Palestinian refugee camps (February 4), while new joint committees were established to deal with these and other issues.1
As might be expected, such measures evoked some critical comment from the various resistance organizations. Thus on January 10 a communique issued by the major guerrilla organizations condemned the government for restricting their freedom of action, and doing so on an unequal basis.2 The following month the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon denied that the PLO was willing to accept Lebanese police posts inside the camps, asserting that such posts could only be established outside and that police activities must be coordinated with the Palestine Armed Struggle Command. In May criticism of the Cairo Agreement and the Lebanese government's behavior was also heard at the 7th session of the PNC in Cairo. It was not, however, reflected in the Council's final communique or resolutions.
For the most part the PLO mainstream voiced a willingness to exercise the degree of self-restraint necessary to implement the agreement. In November (two months before Interior Ministry regulations were issued on the matter) the PLO office in Beirut called upon guerrillas not to circulate armed or in uniform in public areas. In the south Fateh issued leaflets setting forth correct behavior at funerals and discouraging the firing of weapons into the air. Fateh also announced the suspension of military training at some camps. On 25 February 1970 the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon declared that it had reached agreement with the government on the issue of a Lebanese police presence in and around the camps, crossing procedures at border points, and a ban on provocative actions such as "letting off firearms in the camps or allowing armed men out onto the streets." It also announced restrictions on how resistance organizations could conduct fund-raising in the country.3
Yet, for all these steps, much remained to be done. Kamal Junblat estimated in January 1970 that only half of the Cairo Agreement had yet been implemented, and that full implementation would be a long process.4 Of the several obstacles to be overcome, three were particularly troublesome.
The first was the increasingly hostile attitude of Lebanese conservative parties. The initially cautious welcome given the Cairo Agreement by Jumayyil and Chamoun had apparently been based on the belief that the Lebanese Army had negotiated a more restrictive accord. And, as noted earlier, this attitude soon proved short-lived when it became apparent that the momentum of the Palestinian movement remained unbroken. Hilf criticism mounted. Conservative members of the Lebanese parliament complained of armed men in the streets, training in the camps, and incidents of cross-border shelling. The Cairo Agreement was termed a failure. Joseph Mughabghab, a Deputy from Chamoun's LNP, warned that the presence of the Palestinian movement in Lebanon threatened the stability of the Lebanese political system:
Giving a legal identity to the commando action within Lebanon and recognizing this action by the constitutional authorities will help to guarantee protection for the commandos not only with regard to their safety and security of their supply routes, but also on the political and moral level. In other words, a party or organization will arise in Lebanon to serve the interests of the commandos and cooperate with them for the realization of their demands. Of course, the commando organizations will not remain outside the struggle, but will support the Lebanese political forces which meet with them The logic of the commando action is likely to turn further to the left because he who swears to sacrifice himself will not stop to take into consideration the existing regimes or systems in a particular society These leftist organizations aim at liberating Arab societies "from imperialism" and then seek the liberation of Palestine. This requires the blowing up of existing conditions in Lebanon If the opportunity is given to them, Lebanon will then be a good soil for leftist activities and bloody armed clashes5
Pierre al-Jumayyil and the Phalange agreed that the agreement was a mistake, and suggested that the fida'iyyin be transferred from Lebanon to other Arab countries. Zgharta za'im Sulayman Franjiyya called for the government to take a tougher line with guerrilla violations of Lebanese law, and was reported to have formed a private militia in his home district to offset the growing power of the PLO and National Movement in the nearby city of Tripoli.
A second problem was that there were still armed men in the street and incidents of cross-border shelling. According to Israeli sources over one-half of the 150 incidents in the Lebanese border area in 1969 and about 60% of the 410 incidents in 1970 involved cross-border small arms, rocket, or mortar fire rather than infiltration. All of this provided grist for the Phalangist mill. Junblat himself warned the Palestinians that their behavior could damage their public standing, although he stressed that the incidents were minor and that the guerrillas needed time to adjust, discipline themselves, and learn from their mistakes.6
Disunity within the PLO, and the failure of PASC to exert centralized control over guerrilla activities, accounted for much of the problem. At the same time, Palestinian fears over the attitude of the Phalange (and elements of the Lebanese Army and Deuxième Bureau) disinclined them to consult, coordinate, or reduce their military preparations. In response to Mughabghab, Zuhayr Muhsin of al-Sa'iqa warned: "unless there is a real change in the mentality of the regime and the ruling class, and unless there is a tangible change in the manner in which matters concerning Palestinians and the Palestine revolution in Lebanon are dealt with, it is difficult to be optimistic about the possibility of creating positive conditions quickly to establish the minimum amount of mutual confidence between the Palestinians and authorities." A similar appraisal was later provided by Salah Khalaf of Fateh, who identified "lack of trust"-not of Junblat, but of the security forces and conservative political leadership-as the single biggest barrier to implementation of the Cairo Agreement.7
The third challenge was that posed by Israel. In January 1970 Israeli Chief-of-Staff Chaim Bar-Lev warned that unless Lebanon moved to halt guerrilla activities, Israel would "adopt more severe and firm measures in Lebanon." A steadily increasing series of artillery, air, and ground attacks took place against southern Lebanon over the next six months. In May, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan predicted that "if aggression continues, southern Lebanon faces the same kind of ruin as that suffered on the west bank of the Suez Canal, [and] the east bank of the Jordan." By May, the pace of Israeli destruction in the south had forced an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 southern villagers to flee their homes. In turn, Lebanese conservative parties redoubled their calls for an end to the Palestinian armed presence in the country.8
The Lebanese Base
One PLO response to this situation was greater emphasis on forging internal Lebanese alliances. Popular Lebanese sentiment had remained strongly pro-Palestinian in the wake of the Cairo Agreement: a November 1969 survey by al-Nahar found that over 80% of Lebanese supported the fida'iyyin. A majority also expressed support for Palestinian military activity from Lebanese territory.9 Now, having opened formal relations with the Lebanese government and against a backdrop of present and potential difficulties, Palestinian leaders explicitly sought to promote and reinforce their Lebanese mass base.
The most obvious targets for such a policy were, of course, those parties and segments of the population which had stood by the Palestinian movement in the crisis of 1969 and continued to do so. In May-June 1970 the PNC affirmed the importance of maintaining close links with the National Movement in Lebanon and called for "every effort to be made to achieve the highest possible level of coordination with these forces in order to ensure that the Arab-Lebanese masses play a greater part in protecting the Palestinian Revolution and Arab territory in Lebanon."10 The attitude of Lebanese conservatives, and friction between the Palestinian movement and the Hashemite regime in Jordan served to intensify Palestinian determination to do precisely that.
Palestinian-National Movement relations thus proceeded apace. The nature of alliances formed, however, varied from group to group. For the more radical Palestinian organizations, ideology provided an important motive force. The PFLP, for example, was closest to the Arab Socialist Action Party, with which it shared resources and organizational links. Similarly the DFLP had close ties to the Organization of Lebanese Socialists and its successor, the Organization of Communist Action in Lebanon. The DFLP and OCA jointly produced the newspaper al-Hurriyya. The ALF and al-Sa'iqa were closely tied to the pro-Iraqi and pro-Syrian Ba'th parties in Lebanon respectively. Sa'iqa also came to establish strong relations with a number of other pro-Syrian progressive and nationalist groups in the country, thus serving to extend Syrian influence in Lebanon as a tool of Syrian foreign policy.
For Fateh, alliances were forged where they could be had: the receptivity of a given group and Fateh's assessment of its influence, rather than ideology, seemed to be the primary motivating factor. Thus, in addition to supporting the establishment of the small "Lebanese Movement in Support of Fateh" (headed by Dr. Usama Fakhuri, a second rank Sunni politician opposed to leading Beirut Sunni za'im Sa'ib Salam) in 1968, Fateh established relations broadly across the National Movement. And, whereas organizations such as the PFLP eschewed close ties to confessional organization (on the grounds of anti-sectarianism) or the traditional Lebanese elite, Fateh deliberately cultivated many such contacts. 'Arafat and other Fateh leaders commonly held consultation with the leading Muslim zu'ama' and figures from the Muslim religious establishment. With regard to Christian leaders and organizations, a policy of establishing links with the Christian community as such was initiated in 1969. This complemented early efforts by Fateh as far back as 1966: Fateh's Lebanese branch had been dominated by Christians in its early years, and led by a Palestinian Maronite for three.11 Palestinian participation in international organizations such as the "World Conference of Christians for Palestine" played a role in these efforts. Still more so did local contacts through such Lebanese groups as the Lebanese YMCA (strongly supported by Christian Palestinians); the pro-Palestinian, predominately Christian "Fifth of June Society"; Maronite Patriarch Bulus Butrus al-Ma'ushi and his successor Antonius Butrus Khuraysh; the Social Movement of Greek Catholic Bishop Gregoire Haddad; and individual members of notable Christian families. In many cases (such as that of the Social Movement, co-founded with Haddad by Imam Musa al-Sadr) the linkage formed was a tripartite Christian-Shi'i-Palestinian one.
At the same time, Fateh opened lines of communication with the leadership of the major conservative parties, hoping to avoid misunderstandings and assuage conservative Christian fears. Statements by Jumayyil and others to the effect that Lebanese conservatives opposed "the international left" (al-yasar al-duwali) rather than "honorable guerrilla activity" (al-'amal al-fida'i al-sharif) undoubtedly provided further impetus for this. According to Salah Khalaf, it was a policy that met with some early success:
Our relations with the Christian rightist leaders were not bad at the time. Our ambition was to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with all parties, and especially with the two main religious components of the population. The Palestinian leaders, particularly Yasir 'Arafat, often met with Pierre Jumayyil and Camille Chamoun...
Of course, problems arose, but they were resolved in a friendly manner thanks to the lines of communication we succeeded in keeping open with the Christian leaders and the Lebanese government.12 As a result, the period from 1970 to 1972 was "relatively calm" for the PLO in Lebanon. There were, however, a few early indications of troubles on the horizon.
Signs of Things to Come?
On 17 March 1970 a clash between the Lebanese Army and Palestinian guerrillas near Bint Jubayl in the south left one guerrilla officer dead and two others wounded. A Lebanese Ministry of Defense communique issued shortly thereafter described the incident as a "misunderstanding." The PLO, however, saw events differently. The Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon suggested the killings were deliberate. It called for an immediate investigation, the dismissal of those responsible, and an end to security forces provocations and restrictions on fida'iyyin freedom of action. Interior Minister Kamal Junblat's comments too strongly suggested suspicion regarding the circumstances of the matter.13
One week later, a group of young Phalangist gunmen (led by one of Pierre al-Jumayyil's sons, Bashir) ambushed a guerrilla funeral cortege when it passed through the predominately Christian village of Kahhala en route from Beirut to Damascus. Ten persons were killed and an even greater number wounded, almost all of them Palestinians. Sporadic clashes between Palestinians and Phalange militiamen took place in Beirut in the following hours. While the PLO placed blame for events on the Deuxième Bureau and the US Central Intelligence Agency (charges echoed by Junblat), the Phalange attributed the killings to fida'iyyin misbehavior. A series of American targets in Lebanon-the US embassy, cultural center, a refinery, and the Beirut offices of a bank and insurance company-were attacked by the PFLP over the next few days.14
Then on May 12, Israel launched a major raid against guerrilla bases in the 'Arqub. Although Israeli forces withdrew 32 hours later, this and a PFLP-GC rocket attack against an Israeli bus near the Lebanese border on May 22 signaled the beginning of intensified military action in the border area over the summer.
These incidents highlighted the PLO's difficult position in Lebanon. To them, it generally responded by announcing measures designed to calm tensions in the country and forestall escalation which might damage the position it had won with the 1969 Cairo Agreement. Hence, after warning that the Kahhala attack formed part of a conspiracy to liquidate the Palestinian movement in Lebanon, the communique issued by the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon announced that steps had been taken to prevent reprisals and called for restraint by all sides. Similarly, Fateh cooperated with Junblat in interceding to obtain the rapid release of Bashir Jumayyil, who had been seized by a guerrilla roadblock near Tall al-Za'tar camp while driving from Kahhala to Beirut. Later, the Committee strongly condemned the PFLP's "ineffective acts of violence under the pretext of striking at American interests," albeit without mentioning the Popular Front by name. Discussions between the Committee and the Ministry of the Interior led to a detailed agreement on April 8 setting forth guerrilla transit routes in the south, deployment in the central sector, and limitations on "semi-heavy" weaponry. To avoid a repetition of the Bint Jubayl incidents, further guidelines were drawn up regarding cooperation between the PLO and the Army and the behavior of military commanders in the south. In May, additional regulations were announced by the Lebanese government for implementation June 15. These included a definition of who constituted a guerrilla, detailed agreement of the respective roles of PASC and the Lebanese police, and a restatement of previous bans on cross-border firing and the public carrying of arms. May 1970 also saw PLO Chairman Yasir 'Arafat announce the formation of a special Palestinian committee to compensate southern villagers for war damages.15
At the time, the PLO seemed unable to generate universal support for a policy of restraint. The June 15 regulations, for example, were condemned as forming part of an "imperialist-reactionary scheme aimed at the Palestinian revolution" by the PFLP, and were also criticized by al-Sa'iqa and the DFLP. Nevertheless, Fateh accepted them, and the deadline passed without incident. For his part Junblat replied that he did not intend to engage in debate: "certain commando contingents, whose members number not more than 100, are engaged in bidding in efforts to win Palestinian sympathy we depend on the understanding and cooperation of the bigger commando groups." In mid-May he estimated that 85% of the security problems with the PLO had been solved.16
The Franjiyya Presidency
A change in the style, and perhaps substance, of PLO-Lebanese relations seemed likely after September 23. On that date, five weeks after his election by the Lebanese Chamber of Deputies, Sulayman Franjiyya succeeded Charles Hilu as President of the Republic. Franjiyya named Sa'ib Salam as his new Prime Minister; Salam in turn took the decision to retain the Interior Ministry portfolio for himself, and did not reappoint Kamal Junblat to the new cabinet. Two weeks later the new President seemed to signal a tough line regarding the fida'iyyin when, on October 5, he refused to allow more than forty ALF fighters to disembark from a flight from Iraq at Beirut airport. After a stand-off of seventeen hours (during which the guerrillas briefly took a Lebanese security officer hostage), the ALF backed down, and the aircraft returned to Baghdad.
Yet for a variety of reasons neither the airport incident nor Franjiyya's accession to power signaled the immediate onset of increased tensions between the Lebanese government and the PLO. Both the Palestinians and Junblat had found Franjiyya's position on the Cairo Agreement preferable to the ambiguous position adopted by his Shihabist presidential rival, Ilyas Sarkis, and had in fact supported his candidacy.17 Moreover, the PLO had good reason to avoid conflict with the new administration: September 1970 had also marked the beginning of King Husayn's military offensive against the Palestinian movement in Jordan.
At the end of October, as the Jordanian situation worsened, a rare anti-guerrilla demonstration took place at Marj'ayun in south Lebanon to protest Palestinian cross-border rocketing and the Israeli retaliation which invariably followed it. Anxious to stabilize the situation whilst dealing with the crisis in Jordan, 'Arafat traveled to Beirut to chair an emergency meeting of the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon. In a subsequent statement it announced that a number of important organizational decisions had been made in an effort to unify guerrilla activities and reorganize PLO relations with Lebanon, "the sovereignty and independence of which it is eager to preserve." These included the closing of all Lebanese offices of resistance organizations outside Beirut, and the unification of fund-raising activity. When an internal clash between Fateh and the small Action Organization for the Liberation of Palestine broke out in Beirut at the end of December 1970, further measures were adopted. Two AOLP fighters were handed over to the Lebanese authorities, the AOLP office in Beirut was closed and its leader ('Isam Sartawi) deported to Syria. Some Fateh units were disarmed to prevent the clashes from spreading, while the PLO issued a statement regretting the actions of some guerrilla members. One year later, the PLO condemned as "undisciplined" those al-Sa'iqa guerrillas who participated in a New Year's Eve attack on a Beirut police station in which some of their comrades were being held. 'Arafat deplored the incident, and stated that the PLO would "never agree to harming Lebanon and abusing its hospitality."18
With the bulk of their attention directed towards the escalating civil war in Jordan, guerrilla activities in Lebanon slackened. The number of guerrilla incidents inside Israel near the Lebanese border dropped from an average of 32.5 per month in 1970 to 11.7 per month in the first half of 1971. This situation, however, did not endure indefinitely. As the last PLO strongholds in northern Jordan were crushed in the summer of 1971, Lebanon became by default the primary external base of the Palestinian resistance movement. In lieu of an easier target, Lebanon was also held responsible by Israel for increasing levels of Palestinian terrorism in the early 1970s, of which the killing of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich was only the most dramatic example. Moshe Dayan announced that henceforth Israel would no longer be constrained by the pretense of retaliation, but rather would seek to preempt Palestinian military action, striking Lebanon at will.19
Rising confrontation in the south prompted Franjiyya to take firmer action. New, more restrictive regulations on deployment in the western and central sectors were issued by the Lebanese Army liaison office on July 5, 1971. Palestinian negotiators complained of these in a meeting with the Army at the Nabatiyya barracks on July 17, but did not challenge Army authority. Then, in the wake of a three-day Israeli occupation of south Lebanon in late February 1972, the Lebanese Army was ordered to occupy vacated guerrilla positions so as to prevent the guerrillas' return. As units entered the 'Arqub for the first time since November 1969, the PLO's representatives on the joint coordinating committee accepted the necessity of this, provided the PLO's right to operate in the area remained intact.20
The PLO's willingness to restrain its activities was, above all else, motivated by a desire to avoid a replay of the disastrous showdown it had recently suffered in Jordan. In January 1972, Israeli threats to occupy portions of Lebanese territory led the PLO to announce an extension of its past policy of restraint to include a temporary freeze on its activities in the south. Palestinian spokesmen reassured the Lebanese government that the Palestinians would "take into consideration Lebanon's political and military situation and will not be the cause for the occupation of southern Lebanon." Such freezes were announced again in June and September of the same year, with the longest actual halt in guerrilla activity being a twelve week period between February 24 and June 20.21
Despite this, critics of the Palestinian armed presence in Lebanon continued their verbal attacks. In June 1972 Raymond Eddé called for abrogation of the Cairo Agreement, a call subsequently echoed by Pierre Jumayyil. Internally, the PLO leadership sometimes encountered difficulties in having its freeze orders accepted. The PFLP-GC rejected the measure, as did some Fateh field commanders. In the autumn there were reports that force had to be used in the Biqa' against Fateh dissidents who opposed 'Arafat's acceptance on October 8 of Lebanese government restrictions on guerrilla activities in much of the central sector. There were also small incidents between the guerrillas and the army, and others-including a wave of bombings in Beirut in January 1972-for which no one claimed responsibility. Indicative of the depth of suspicion on both sides, a February 1973 Israeli attack against the Nahr al-Barid and Baddawi refugee camps near Tripoli was initially believed by PASC to be an attack launched against it by the Lebanese Army.22
The Verdun Raid and the May Crisis
The real spark, however, was to come on April 10. On that date in 1973 an Israeli commando raid in Rue Verdun, in the heart of Beirut, left three major Palestinian figures dead: Kamal Nasir, poet and the PLO's official spokesman; Muhammad al-Najjar, head of the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon, member of the PLO Executive Committee and Fateh Central Committee; and Kamal Udwan, also a member of the Fateh Central Committee.
The failure of the Lebanese security forces to intercept the raiders raised a storm of protest from Palestinian and leftist circles. The PLO Executive Committee initially blamed the US Central Intelligence Agency and Israel, although it also deeply suspected that elements within the Lebanese Army had collaborated with the raiders. Junblat charged that the Lebanese government had been lax in its preparations, was unprepared and unwilling to defend the Palestinian movement, and hinted at "collusion" between the authorities and Israel.23 Sa'ib Salam placed the blame on General Iskandar Ghanim, the commander of the Army, and demanded his dismissal. When President Franjiyya refused, Salam resigned as Prime Minister, to be replaced by Amin al-Hafiz.
Friction between the guerrillas and the security forces increased rapidly thereafter. On April 14 the US-owned oil terminus at Zahrani was bombed, allegedly by the PFLP-GC; on April 27 three men were arrested with explosives at Beirut airport, where a bomb was found the next day; on April 30 several armed DFLP members were arrested as they drove past the US Embassy. In response, two Lebanese soldiers were kidnapped on May 1. The refugee camps were then surrounded and attacked by the army. In response to Palestinian shelling of the airport, the Lebanese Air Force was ordered into action against the Burj al-Barajina camp on Beirut's southern outskirts. A state of emergency was declared throughout the country.
As the fighting intensified, the PLO appealed to external allies for support. Algeria, Libya, and Syria promptly condemned the Lebanese government's actions. All three, together with Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and the Arab League offered to mediate. Egypt and Syria-now planning what would become the October 1973 Arab-Israeli War-were particularly anxious to contain the conflict, and exerted considerable pressure to that end. This included the closure of the Syrian-Lebanese border on May 8, and the movement of Fateh and Sa'iqa forces from Syria to a few kilometers inside Lebanon.24
Appeals to internal and external allies notwithstanding, the PLO's position in the May crisis was essentially a defensive one. Although it could not fully control the activities of some smaller and more radical Palestinian groups, the bulk of Palestinian military strength was withheld in defense of the camps. Throughout the crisis PLO communiques were careful to hold out the possibility of compromise, expressing at the same time the PLO's "profoundest concern for the sovereignty of Lebanon."25 A joint Palestinian-Lebanese committee was formed almost immediately upon the onset of fighting to negotiate an end to the clashes. Two weeks and three ceasefires passed, however, before the shooting abated. With this, attention then turned to establishing guidelines for future Palestinian-Lebanese relations- relations which, the PLO insisted, must be based on the principles set forth in the Cairo Agreement of 1969. Negotiations between a Palestinian delegation ('Atallah 'Atallah [Abu Za'im] of Fateh, commander of Palestinian forces in Lebanon; 'Abd al-Karim Hamad [Abu Adnan] of the DFLP; and Salah Salah of the PFLP) and representatives of the Lebanese Army subsequently began at the Milkart Hotel in Beirut.
On May 17, after some seventeen hours of negotiation, the two sides announced that they had reached agreement. The "Milkart Protocols," as the agreement became known, comprised detailed minutes of those points upon which agreement had been reached. In the camps, the two sides agreed to ban the presence of guerrillas and of medium and heavy weaponry. Self-defense was to be entrusted to a local militia drawn from residents, equipped with individual light arms only. A Lebanese Internal Security Forces post would be established nearby. In the border area, the guerrillas were prohibited from deploying in the Western sector, or near villages or in close proximity to the Israeli frontier in the central and eastern sectors. Military operations were to be frozen by virtue of earlier decisions of the Arab Defense Council, and Lebanon was not to be used as a departure point for external operations. Military training was to occur only at agreed locations outside the camps, and all non-Arab guerrillas (other than humanitarian and civilian personnel) were to be dismissed. Finally, the PLO reaffirmed that its official headquarters was in Damascus, and agreed not to establish a radio station or to "entangle" (tawrit) Lebanon in its informational activities.26
In accordance with their agreement and following additional meetings at the Kuwaiti and Egyptian embassies on May 28, 29 and 30, the PLO and Lebanese Army established a new Higher Coordinating Committee to oversee implementation of the Milkart Protocols. After fighting that had left more than a hundred dead and twice as many wounded, a semblance of calm returned to Beirut. The tensions which had sparked the abortive confrontation, however, remained rife.
Roots of the Crisis
The clashes of May 1973 were not merely evidence of the deteriorating state of PLO relations with Franjiyya, the army, and the Lebanese right, but also symptomatic of a deeper crisis in Lebanon. Of these the PLO was but a part-a lightening rod for regional conflict and a catalyst for domestic protest to be sure, but only a part nonetheless. As factors beyond its control enveloped the PLO and its Lebanese sanctuary, the dilemmas of PLO policy grew ever more acute.
The Impact of Black September
"Black September"-King Husayn's bloody campaign launched in September 1970 to crush the PLO in Jordan-was one such factor. Heretofore, Jordan had been the external headquarters and major operational base of the fida'iyyin, accounting for over two-thirds of all cross-border guerrilla operations between June 1967 and August 1970. Afterwards, the PLO officially moved its headquarters to Damascus-and, in practice, to Beirut. In contrast to its Syrian counterpart, the Lebanese capital offered relaxed political controls and excellent access to the world press. This, combined with Egypt's deactivation of the Suez front through acceptance of the Rogers Plan in August 1970, and Syria's restriction of guerrilla activity on the Golan Heights the following year, rendered Lebanon the Palestinian movement's most important external sanctuary and the only state bordering Palestine within which the PLO enjoyed any significant freedom of action. Over the two years an estimated 15-30,000 Palestinians displaced by the fighting in Jordan-including several thousand armed guerrillas-entered the country.27
With the increased Palestinian armed presence in Lebanon came other evidence that the Palestinian-Hashemite war had expanded to the west. Mysterious attacks on Lebanese Army positions, the January 1972 bombings in Beirut, the unknown snipers who violated the May 1973 ceasefires-many of these, the PLO suspected, were the work of Jordanian agents provocateurs seeking to provoke a second Black September. The fact that the Jordanian military attaché in Beirut was subsequently deported on information provided the Lebanese government by Fateh intelligence sources gave at least some credence to the view. Certainly it was true that Jordan had begun to extend military training to the militias of the Phalange and LNP, and financial support to Camille Chamoun and Shi'i za'im Kamal As'ad-all of them strong opponents of the Palestinian armed presence.
For the Palestinian movement the major lesson of Jordan was clear: the continued survival of the Palestinian revolution required the mobilization of a mass base of popular Arab support, one which would both constrain the ability of reactionary regimes to strike at the resistance and stand by the PLO in its times of need:
We believe that the basis of the protection of the Palestine resistance movement is the Lebanese National Movement. We hold the National Movement in Lebanon responsible before all other quarters for confronting the conspiracies that are being prepared to strike down the resistance. Our task is to defend ourselves in light of a plan in whose drawing up the Lebanese Nationalist Movement plays a fundamental role. If we want to take advantage of what happened in Jordan, this is the basic lesson we must learn.28
It was important too that such allies be powerful and independent in their own right. In Jordan, the PLO had overshadowed other supportive Palestinian and Jordanian organizations, and when the royal army had struck at the former the latter had been paralyzed. There were, as noted before, differences over who the PLO's allies should be, with Fateh much more willing to cooperate with representatives of the traditional Muslim elite. There was, however, agreement across the Palestinian movement of the necessity of Lebanese alliances.
The major ally the PLO found was, of course, Kamal Junblat and the Lebanese National Movement. The value of this internal alliance was soon apparent. In March 1972, ten Lebanese progressive parties organized a demonstration of over 10,000 people to protest government restrictions on guerrilla activities in the south. Eight months later Junblat was elected Secretary-General of the Arab Front for Participating in the Palestinian Revolution, an international grouping of forty-six pro-Palestinian parties. The Lebanese Movement in Support of Fateh, OCA, the LCP, and the Ba'th were all represented on the Front's secretariat. During the spring 1973 crisis between the PLO and the Lebanese Army, up to a quarter of a million persons turned out for the funeral of the three Palestinian leaders slain in Rue Verdun. Concrete political support from the LNM was apparent throughout the weeks of fighting which followed. Palestinian leaders were virtually unanimous in their assessment that "the Lebanese national and progressive movement played an important role in thwarting this scheme," and that "the struggling Lebanese masses and their movement took a stand against the armed attacks which the authorities organized, and backed the resistance effectively and politically and on a mass basis, and this had a major influence in freezing the crisis."29
There was, however, a difficulty in all this. 'Arafat, initially at least, seemed to envisage the PLO's internal alliances in Lebanon as strategic ones whereby the PLO could gain the support it needed without becoming embroiled in Lebanese domestic issues not of immediate concern. He explicitly appealed to other Palestinian resistance organizations "not to involve the revolution in any Lebanese domestic issues." But for the DFLP, PFLP, and even some within Fateh itself, the slogan of non-interference in Lebanon's internal affairs was idealistic and naive. The complexity of the Lebanese situation, the Arab dimension of the Palestinian cause, the common struggle of the Palestinian and Lebanese people against imperialism and reaction-all of this, they argued, made a hands-off alliance in Lebanon impossible. The PFLP and DFLP were further committed to a revolutionary transformation of the entire Arab world; the sponsored organizations (al-Sa'iqa, the ALF), to an extension of the foreign policy influence in Lebanon of their parent regimes. Hence all of these organizations showed considerable enthusiasm for the intricacies of Lebanese politics: the PFLP, for example, had as one of its avowed aims the creation of an "intimate alliance with the patriotic and progressive movement in Lebanon," and the "integration" of the PLO and LNM. In many cases it became difficult to distinguish Palestinian organizations from their Lebanese counterparts (DFLP/OCA, PFLP/ASAP, Sa'iqa and the ALF from the respective branches of the Lebanese Ba'th).30
Fateh, desirous of retaining its influence and having recruited large numbers of Lebanese guerrillas in any event, became involved in the process too. The 1970 death of President 'Abd al-Nasir and the subsequent withdrawal of Egyptian influence in Lebanon accelerated the process, as Fateh emerged as an increasingly important sponsor of many of Lebanon's Nasirite groups. Fateh also formed close early ties with Imam Sadr and his movement.
Moreover, equal (and often even greater) enthusiasm for the PLO-LNM alliance was shown by many Lebanese parties, who were anxious to maximize Palestinian involvement so as to increase their own political influence in Lebanon. The Palestinian armed presence was seen by leftist and Arab nationalist groups not only as a rightful (and popular) cause, but also as a guarantee against the suppression of the progressive movement by a conservative Lebanese state. The PLO was thus an invaluable ally, by the mere fact of its presence, in the struggle against the status quo. After the crisis of May 1973, and even more so the civil war, "non-intervention" had become obsolete, formal declarations to the contrary notwithstanding.
Scorched Earth in the South
Before 1967 Syria and Egypt had directly organized commando raids on Israel and hence provided obvious targets for Israeli military retaliation. Post-1967 fida'iyyin action (and the international terrorism to which some Palestinian groups turned in the early 1970s to garner world attention to their cause) was, however, more difficult to counter. The Palestinian nature of guerrilla action meant that no one state could be held responsible. Indeed, identifying a meaningful target in itself could pose serious difficulties. Military action on a limited scale was unlikely to achieve a decisive effect given the dispersal and popular Palestinian base of the guerrilla movement. Raids against Palestinian positions could cause casualties and disrupt operations, but could not provide the sort of sustained pressure needed to suppress the movement altogether, short of occupying each confrontation state in turn.
Under such circumstances the logical response was to focus attention on not only the Palestinians, but also on their supporters. By striking at Lebanon and the population which gave the Palestinians such valuable support, Lebanese sympathies for the PLO would be undermined. Eventually the Lebanese government might be encouraged to suppress the guerrillas themselves. It was a policy predicated, in the words of Israeli Foreign Minister (1966-74) Abba Eban, on the "rational prospect, ultimately fulfilled, that affected populations would exert pressure for the cessation of hostilities." In the case of Lebanon, other foreign policy calculations entered the picture too: if the chaos generated by Israeli pressures strengthened the position of Maronite conservatives and created opportunities for realizing Israel's long-standing interest in expanding its influence over its northern neighbor, so much the better.31
The continuous and escalating attacks experienced by Lebanon in the late 1960s and 1970s were part of precisely such a strategy. Southern villages were shelled and the crops and groves upon which the villagers depended destroyed. The Lebanese Army recorded over three thousand violations of Lebanese territory by Israeli forces between 1968 and 1974, an average rate of 1.4 incidents per day. (In 1974-75 the rate would increase still further, to 7 per day.) During this same period (1968-74) some 880 Lebanese and Palestinian civilians were killed in Israeli attacks. Thousands were wounded, and one-fifth or more of the border region's 150,000 inhabitants were forced to flee the south to the relative safety of Beirut and other urban centers.32 Given such policies and Israel's known intelligence and covert action capabilities in Beirut (graphically illustrated in the 1972 assassination of PFLP spokesman Ghassan Kanafani, and at the 1973 Verdun raid), it would be surprising indeed if the Israeli secret service did not also lay behind at least some of the mysterious incidents which plagued PLO-Lebanese relations.
With the attacks on Lebanon came calls by Lebanese rightist parties for abrogation of the Cairo Agreement, and early signs of friction between the guerrillas and the generally supportive population of the south. Given the scope of Israeli military action against south Lebanon, the fact that most southerners appeared to maintain their support for the fida'iyyin was in itself remarkable. Sympathy for the Palestinian cause contributed to this, as did PLO policies designed to relax tensions and improve public relations. Of equal importance, however, were the activities of the PLO's National Movement allies. These allies played a major role in preempting criticism of the guerrillas by channeling grievances into dissatisfaction with a Lebanese central government that had traditionally ignored the impoverished south. The National Movement and Shi'ite leader Imam Musa al-Sadr demanded government programs to alleviate the south's hardship, and increased defense preparations (including conscription) which would allow Lebanon to resist Israeli aggression.
Problems of Palestinian Policy-making
For its part the PLO recognized the potential if not yet realized dangers of alienating Lebanese opinion, and in this spirit announced its temporary freezes on guerrilla activity from 1972 on. But the issue of cross-border guerrilla activity was an emotive one within the Palestinian movement. Ideologically, virtually no one in the PLO approved of the principle of suspending military action against Israel. Many were unconvinced that even temporary freezes served any useful purpose. And, quite apart from the policy debate over whether the suspension of cross-border action actually lessened Israeli pressure on Lebanon or improved the PLO's popular Lebanese standing, the realities of Palestinian politics made any such decision difficult to sustain.
Simply put, cross-border action was popular among Palestinians, and especially among the refugee camp populations that represented the radical bulwark of the Palestinian liberation struggle. Fateh's apparent willingness to announce freezes on such action left it open to charges that it was abandoning the armed struggle, the catalyst which had created the Palestinian movement and the raison d'être of the PLO. Under such conditions, efforts by the Fateh and mainstream PLO leadership to compel a suspension in operations were politically dangerous at best. By the same token, violating a freeze whilst others were abiding by it tended to enhance a group's image of militancy and commitment. Therefore, despite the announcement of a freeze, cross-border operations generally continued.
A similar dynamic endured too with regard to continued Palestinian violations of the Cairo Agreement. The Jordanian experience had already demonstrated to most Palestinian leaders the dangers of unruly guerrilla behavior and internecine conflict. But each group was limited by the need to maintain its own organization and constituency against the inroads of political competitors. Individual efforts to impose rigorous discipline might harm political recruitment if other organizations retained their relatively lax standards. Yet any attempt to impose a central discipline, especially by Fateh over the smaller guerrilla organizations, was viewed as an extension of Fateh hegemony and resisted accordingly.
Such disunity had a serious impact in Jordan, where some degree of cohesion had been only belatedly achieved after September 1970 under weight of Jordanian military pressure. In an attempt to improve coordination, the PLO Central Council and a central military command (like PASC before it) had been established. But in practice, PLO policy emerged from a rather less cohesive and more competitive process.
Indicative of the problems facing Palestinian decision-makers in formulating a common and coherent Palestinian policy was the fate of a study reportedly undertaken for Fateh by a private research institute, and subsequently leaked in June 1973. The study reportedly placed significant blame on the DFLP and PFLP-GC for escalating the May crisis. It called for action to be taken against US and Israeli intelligence capabilities in Lebanon; an attempt to win over the forces of the Lebanese political "center"; and strengthened relations with the Lebanese National Movement. It also warned against sectarianization and entanglement in Lebanese affairs; stressed the importance of good guerrilla conduct; suggested improved relations with the Lebanese security forces; and called for the mobilization of Lebanese mass support. It was revealing, however, that although the report emphasized the fundamental importance of Palestinian unity, it was precisely in this interest that its findings were denounced. Amidst protests from the DFLP and PFLP-GC, the official Palestinian press agency WAFA quickly disavowed it, stating that Fateh did not hold the DFLP or PFLP-GC in any way responsible for recent Lebanese events.33
The Economic and Political Crisis
As the PLO debated policy amidst its confrontations with Jordan, Israel, and the Lebanese Army, the social contradictions of the Lebanese system were being sharpened by a growing economic crisis. By the late 1960s, the economic growth experienced by Lebanon after World War Two had soured amid the Intra Bank failure of 1966 and the regional economic dislocation caused by the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The lopsided dominance of a large service sector employing relatively few and a small and declining agricultural sector employing many provided further impetus for economic hardship. Inflation, which had doubled between 1970-71 and 1971-72, reached more than 23% in 1973. With the post-October 1973 oil boom the situation worsened still further as the influx of petrodollars to Beirut's service sector pushed prices higher. The cost of such consumer staples as rice, fruit, and vegetables more than doubled. Meanwhile, thousands of (predominately Shi'i) peasants fled economic decline and Israeli raids in the south to face underemployment or unemployment in urban slums, and especially in the "misery belt" of Beirut's southern outskirts.34
As unemployment and the cost of living increased, so too did economic discontent. On 11 November 1972 workers at the Ghandur chocolate factory went on strike; the government responded with force which left three workers dead. Two and a half months later eight thousand tobacco farmers (supported by students and the leftist parties) demonstrated in Nabatiyya. When they tried to march on the offices of the government-owned tobacco company, security forces opened fire again, killing three and wounding thirteen. January 1973 also saw the dismissal by the Salam government of 2,600 striking teachers. In March 1974 some 15,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Beirut to protest the high price of bread amidst threats by the Lebanese trade union federation to call a national general strike. Student strikes against tuition fee increases, for educational, social, political, and economic reform-and, of course, freedom of action for the fida'iyyin-occurred throughout 1971-74. They too often ended in clashes with police.
The students' linkage of particular grievances to issues of general social reform, and the active participation of National Movement parties in workers' and farmers' protests, pointed to the ideological ferment underway in Lebanese politics. While Lebanese conditions and contradictions were providing the basic ingredients for this, the Palestinian movement was, by its aims, aspirations, popular base and example, providing a powerful catalyst for social change.
This process both promoted, and was promoted by, the expansion of the Lebanese left, who were in the forefront of organized protests against social injustice. Kamal Junblat decried the government's suppression of strikes and demonstrations as a "massacre," and declared that "Lebanon, even in the darkest periods of its history, has never experienced such corruption." The membership of the progressive parties climbed, with the communist parties enjoying particular success in attracting poor workers from Beirut's "misery belt." In Tripoli, the 1972 parliamentary elections saw 'Abd al-Majid al-Rafa'i of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party top the polls, garnering several hundred more votes than Tripoli's traditional Sunni leader, Rashid Karami. In Beirut, Nasirite leader Najah Wakim was also elected to the Chamber of Deputies.35
The economic and political crisis also spurred Imam Musa al-Sadr's efforts to organize the Shi'ite community. By 1974 he had founded the Movement of the Deprived to further his demands for equality and social justice for all Lebanese, and the down-trodden Shi'a in particular. Addressing a crowd of 75,000 supporters at Ba'lbak in March of that year he threatened to arm his Movement to defend south Lebanon and win equality by force if government reforms were not forthcoming.
Because of Sadr's political influence in the south, close relations were initially forged between his movement and the Palestinians, especially Fateh. The slogan of "unity between those dispossessed of their land and those dispossessed in their land" was coined to reflect this. Support for Sadr was also voiced by the DFLP, which like much of the Palestinian-Lebanese left espoused the concept of "sect-class" (al-tabaqa al-ta'ifa, i.e. the congruence of class and communal boundaries, insofar as the bulk of the Shi'ite population were also poor peasants and workers) to justify such support for what otherwise constituted a sectarian organization.
For the traditional Lebanese ruling class, the political developments of the early 1970s were worrying in the extreme. Growing popular radicalism was undermining the individual support bases of all traditional leaders, and particularly rural feudal Shi'i zu'ama' and urban Sunni bourgeoisie who lacked even rudimentary party apparatuses. Moreover, the nonconfessional nature of the protests, the rise of secular leftist parties, and the apparent growth of intercommunal class identities posed a serious threat to the foundations of the sectarian political system. Franjiyya and Salam thus responded to worker and student protests with force, with the latter declaring that "the state is determined to deal with any attempt to create chaos." Disturbances were blamed on the actions of outside agitators. It was a position with which the Phalange concurred. Pierre Jumayyil remarked in an open letter to the President: "We thank God that the State has decided to take firm action to meet this challenge and we support you and your stand."36
Yet force alone could not quell the ideological and economic foundations of the strikes, riots, and demonstrations. Weakened and constrained by the attitudes of the Muslim "street," there was little that Salam, Karami or other traditional Sunni leaders could do to confront these issues directly. To support calls for fundamental reform was to support calls for abolition of an important base of their social power; yet to openly oppose demands for reform was equally impossible. The best that could be done was to promote incremental changes in the National Pact formula through calls for greater Muslim representation in the administrative structure, and a greater role for the Prime Minister (and cabinet) vis-à-vis the President. The slogan of musharaka ("participation") that they raised was thus little more than a call for incremental change in the sectarian balance-of-power. Later, as domestic conditions worsened and demands for major reform grew more powerful in 1974-75, a common interest in maintaining some middle ground between the National Movement and the increasingly reactionary stance of the Phalange would lead Salam, Karami, and Raymond Eddé to join in forming the Tripartite Coalition (al-tahaluf al-thulathi).
Even the Phalange faced a crisis of ideology and political support. Despite its conservatism, the party had always sought to present itself as populist, modernist, and reformist-hence the official but little-used inclusion of "Social Democratic" in its formal title. It contrasted its modernism with that of feudal zu'ama' like Sulayman Franjiyya. Officially at least, it had sought to promote a "Lebanese" nationalism that would transcend sectarian bounds. Yet, when faced with demands for real change, it found itself relying upon a Maronite Christian core of support in a vigorous defense of the status quo.
The Phalange's support for status quo and upholding of Christian rights, however well-received among its traditional supporters in Beirut and Mount Lebanon, was seen with disappointment by a younger generation of Lebanese. At predominately Christian universities right-wing Phalangist students clashed with the left-wing and Arab nationalist counterparts as the Kata'ib lost ground to progressive slates in student elections. Within the party, a internal report by liberal members warned as early as 1971 that the Phalange's doctrine was no longer attractive to Lebanese youth, who were "going through a period of awareness and doubt-awareness of the corruption of the confessional system, and doubt as to its ability to persist and progress."37
Phalange liberals suggested that the way out of this dilemma lay in changing the Kata'ib into a progressive, secular party, and by moving closer to mainstream Arab views on issues such as Palestine. An alternate response-and one more deeply rooted in the traditions of political Maronitism-called for a retreat into the Christian-Lebanese laager and generation of a siege mentality. Phalange support had always risen in times of crisis; by posing the current situation in terms of a Phalangist defense of Lebanese sovereignty and protection of the Christian community in the face of foreign (Palestinian-leftist) subversion, the party could both defend its privileges and rebuild its strength. Moreover, by striking at the Palestinians in particular it could remove a major source of discomfort and strip the Lebanese National Movement of its ally and current protector. Ominously, Pierre al-Jumayyil's open letter to Franjiyya had added "should the state fail in its duty or weaken or hesitate, then Mr. President, we shall ourselves take action; we shall meet demonstrations with bigger demonstrations, strikes with more extensive strikes, toughness with toughness, and force with force."
From the Milkart Protocols to the Civil War
On June 1, Yasir 'Arafat met with Franjiyya, their first meeting since the crisis had begun. Three weeks later Zuhayr Muhsin announced (in his capacity as head of the PLO's Military Department) a temporary freeze on guerrilla actions in the south. Yet for all sides, this respite from conflict provided little time to reflect on the past. On the regional front, new problems and prospects soon arose in the aftermath of the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war. Within Lebanon, the domestic economic and political crisis continued unabated, and indeed worsened as time went on. Over the next two years Lebanon would gradually be brought to the brink of violent civil war.
The apparent unwillingness or inability of the Lebanese Army to achieve a clear-cut victory over the Palestinian movement in May 1973 was a severe disappointment to the Lebanese right. Up until May, Phalange and LNP strategy appeared to be directed towards encouraging the government to act to restrict the fida'iyyin, even to the point of precipitating a showdown between government and guerrilla forces in which the power of the latter would be broken. Yet when it had come to pass, the confrontation had been inconclusive and the hoped-for suppression had failed to materialize.
As Jumayyil had threatened, the Lebanese right began to take matters into its own hands. Even before the recent crisis, several political militias had existed in Lebanon. That of the Phalange dated back to 1936, and the party's early formation as a para-military youth group. The LNP had a military wing too, al-Numur (The Tigers), as did the Franjiyya clan and others in Zgharta (later known as the "Zgharta Liberation Army" and the "Mardaite Brigade"). In the wake of the May clashes new groups emerged publicly, such as al-Tanzim (The Organization) and the Guardians of the Cedars (Hurras al-arz), led by Sa'id 'Aql and Etienne Saqr. Both were virulently anti-Palestinian, and drew their support almost exclusively from the Maronite community.
Extensive military preparations were soon apparent as massive quantities of arms flowed from abroad to conservative militias-sometimes with the apparent connivance of sympathetic government officials. Maronite leaders justified it as an appropriate Christian response to the Palestinian armed presence and a worsening deterioration in public order. Speaking at a September 1973 graduation ceremony for his own militia, Camille Chamoun asked, "Why have foreigners and those seeking refuge in hospitable Lebanon the right to stage military training and carry arms, while Lebanon's sons have no right to do so in defence of their homeland?" Pierre Jumayyil put the rightist position even more clearly, warning "we cannot accept the closing of our camps and at the same time allow the presence of Palestinian camps that have their own government, courts, army, and police." Four months later, when asked about reports that over six thousand weapons had recently arrived at Beirut port for the Phalange and LNP he denied all knowledge of the affair, but declared "if [the reports] are true, I say 'bravo' to those who concluded the deal." He added: "It is not logical that the Lebanese should see arms being carried in the streets and flowing in from everywhere across the border without cost to an alien group which entered Lebanon illegally."38
The arming of the Lebanese right was accelerated by similar preparations on the Palestinian side. The April 1973 Verdun raid had seriously alarmed the Palestinian leadership, who now felt acutely vulnerable. Palestinian offices near the seashore at Ras Beirut were closed and hurriedly withdrawn to the relative safety of the Sabra-Shatila refugee camps. The unification and strengthening of the camps' popular militia forces, initiated soon after Israel's raid against the Nahr al-Barid and Baddawi refugee camps near Tripoli in February 1973, was stepped up. A program of building fortifications in the camps was undertaken, while heavier weapons systems (especially anti-aircraft defenses) were acquired and deployed to defend them-much of this in direct violation of the recently-negotiated Milkart Protocols. Amid requests from the Palestinian movement's Lebanese allies (who themselves were alarmed by the arming of the right), some Palestinian military aid and training was supplied to parties of the Lebanese National Movement. At this stage, most of this support was extended on individual initiative by the more radical organizations. Recognizing the escalatory potential, the PLO leadership refused to undertake major military support for the National Movement until after the onset of the Civil War in 1975.39
At the same time, the PLO did seek to calm the fears of the Maronite leadership through its policy of direct contact and communication. Defending the policy against its LNM and Palestinian critics, Salah Khalaf told one interviewer that:
Active political opening up to all political forces in Lebanon should be strengthened in order to explain ourselves to Lebanese public opinion. We do not consider dialogue with forces which differ with us or disagree with our existence as something shameful, but as a political struggle pursued by all revolutions which are sure of themselves and possess a clear political line.40
The most important element of this had been a formal dialogue with the Phalange opened in 1972, having been confirmed by a Kata'ib party resolution in September of that year. In June 1973, a Palestinian delegation headed by Salah Khalaf reached agreement with its Phalangist counterparts on a joint communique outlining the common views of the two sides. The communique was to be made public at the Phalange Party's anniversary celebrations in September. Before then, however, the agreement was torpedoed by internal opposition from Phalangist hard-liners (notably Bashir al-Jumayyil), and external opposition from Camille Chamoun on the one hand and some Lebanese national movement parties on the other. Instead, listeners heard a speech by Pierre Jumayyil in which, after hailing Palestine as the "most just cause of our time," he warned against "this abuse of commando action" whereby "[the fida'iyyin] have taken military action against us amounting to war in the full sense of the word." After 1973, the dialogue between the two sides effectively stopped.41
In the polarized and militarized atmosphere prevailing, it was inevitable that conflicts would occur. And they did. The worst of these took place in late July 1974 when a dispute between two smugglers escalated into a three-day battle between Kata'ib militiamen of the Dikwana district of East Beirut and PFLP guerrillas from the neighboring Tall al-Za'tar camp. Five persons were killed before the clash was finally brought under control. Clashes between the Phalange and the LNM also occurred, notably in July 1974 (between Kata'ib and PSP militiamen in the Metn) and with the SSNP in February 1975. Because of his government's apparent inability to halt the proliferation of arms in the country, Taqi al-Din al-Sulh tendered his resignation in the fall of 1974. He was succeeded as Prime Minister by his cousin, Rashid al-Sulh.
Repercussions of the October War
Amid rising tensions in Lebanon, only the October 1973 Arab-Israeli war had, paradoxically, provided the PLO with a brief hiatus. From the onset of hostilities on October 6 the PLO was active in the fighting, alongside the Egyptians in the west, with the Syrians on the Golan Heights, and alone inside Palestine and across the Lebanese border. For the first time since 1948 Palestinians, as Palestinians, had directly participated in a war with Israel. Within Lebanon, tensions temporarily relaxed as both Muslim and Christian leaders endorsed the Arab war effort.42
After the war, the PLO's international status grew rapidly. In November 1973 only Jordanian opposition prevented the PLO from being recognized by the Arab League as the sole body qualified to speak on the Palestinians' behalf. In October 1974 even that obstacle was removed as the Arab leaders at the Rabat Summit Conference unanimously announced to the world their acceptance of the PLO as "the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people."43 A few weeks later Yasir 'Arafat himself appeared before the United Nations. It was Lebanon's Sulayman Franjiyya who formally proposed (on behalf of the Arab League) the PLO's successful bid to gain observer status in the General Assembly. The PLO opened diplomatic relations with a number of countries, more than 100 of which were to grant it some form of official recognition by the early 1980s.
Yet the post October environment also posed new challenges. As the Arab world confronted the issue of a peace settlement with Israel, regional and local conditions deteriorated badly.
Within the PLO unity and coordination were badly affected by differences over how best to respond to the post-October diplomatic environment, and in particular the proposed Geneva peace conference. Should the PLO participate in the conference, or did this represent an unwarranted deviation from the armed struggle? Efforts to base the conference on UN Security Council resolution 242 of 1967 (with its reference to Arab "refugees" rather than Palestinian self-determination) complicated the matter, as did reluctance to grant Israel de facto recognition through negotiation. If the PLO were to participate in Geneva, on what basis should it do so? The US and Israel were anxious to preclude PLO participation; others suggested the Palestinians' submergence within a unified "Arab" delegation. What negotiating position should the PLO adopt? Clearly, a non-sectarian democratic state in all of Palestine could not be achieved in the short term given prevailing political and strategic conditions.
Such considerations, coupled with the PLO's Jordanian experience, had led many in Fateh and the DFLP to suggest that the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip might represent a more realistic interim objective. Yet even interim acceptance of anything less than the liberation of all Palestine was bitterly opposed by the PFLP and others within the Palestinian movement. Such rejectionism won significant support both from Palestinian refugees from pre-1967 Israel, and from radical Arab states such as Libya and Iraq. In a similar vein, the PFLP also opposed 'Arafat's UN appearance, fearing it foreshadowed a deemphasis of the armed liberation struggle.
Apparent compromise on all these points was painfully forged at the 12th session of the PNC in July 1974. The ten-point program adopted at the meeting rejected UN Security Council resolution 242 (point 1), and similarly rejected recognition of Israel (point 3). Yet, more importantly, all of the major resistance groups broke with the past to endorse the idea of a "phased" (marhali) approached to the struggle. According to the second point of the program:
The PLO will struggle by every means, the foremost of which is armed struggle, to liberate Palestinian land and to establish the people's national, independent and fighting sovereignty on every part of Palestinian land to be liberated. This requires the creation of further changes in the balance of power in favor of our people and their struggle.44
Thus armed struggle was no longer the "sole" means of Palestinian liberation (as had been the case under the 1968 revised Charter), but one among many; in the course of that struggle the PLO was prepared to accept, in the interim, a "national authority" on any part of Palestinian soil from which Israel withdrew. It was this decision that had been endorsed at Rabat, and which had paved the way for 'Arafat's UN appearance.
The ten-point program of 1974 had been carefully and ambiguously worded to maintain internal Palestinian consensus. Soon, however, 'Arafat and other spokespersons were making it clear that by "national authority" they understood the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied territories, and that in their view the PNC program did not exclude participation in Geneva or other similar negotiations. With this, unity collapsed. In June 1974, the PNC resolutions sparked fighting in Lebanon between the PFLP-GC and DFLP in which over twenty persons were killed or wounded. In September, the PFLP announced its decision to withdraw from the PLO Executive Committee and boycott meetings of the Central Council in protest over what it saw as misuse of the PNC resolutions to legalize a "course of deviation and surrender." Soon the Arab Liberation Front, PFLP-GC, and PSF joined the Popular Front in condemning the apparent political direction of the PLO. The first two of these froze their Executive Committee membership, and with Iraqi support all four groups announced the formation in October of "a unified front comprising the sections of the resistance, all mass bodies and organizations and patriotic persons that reject surrenderist solutions"-the Palestinian Rejection Front.45
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Henry Kissenger's "step-by-step" diplomacy (marked by the Sinai I Egyptian-Israeli disengagement agreement of January 1974, the Syrian-Israeli disengagement of May, and especially the Sinai II agreement of September 1975) did little to lessen tensions in Lebanon. The Palestinians grew increasingly worried that a piecemeal settlement was in the making that would leave Palestinian national rights unfulfilled. Pierre Jumayyil and other Maronite leaders expressed a related concern that a situation was developing wherein "the burden of the fight for the return is now to be the sole responsibility of Lebanon and the Palestinians," a burden that "Lebanon cannot possibly cope with."46 Outside the country, the Arab unity evident in October 1973 had collapsed by 1975. Hostility between Syria and Egypt increased as the former came to suspect the latter of moving towards a separate peace with Israel. This in turn aggravated the situation in Lebanon as rival Arab intelligence services fought out their differences through Lebanese or Palestinian proxies, and as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other conservative Arab regimes provided material support to the Phalange and LNP as a counterweight to what they perceived as growing leftist radicalism.
In the south the war continued. The week-long shelling of the 'Arqub village of Kafr Shuba which forced as many as four thousand people from their homes in January 1975, was just a particularly intense example of a constant pattern of Israeli attacks. Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres remarked that "Lebanon's sovereignty [is] being eaten away by a collection of terrorist organizations and by camouflaged designs on her independence"-as much a threat as an observation, and of particular significance in light of domestic Lebanese developments.47
The PLO again agreed to several temporary halts to its cross-border operations-in late October 1973, and again in February, March, April, and July 1974. When Palestinian attacks did occur inside Israel near the Lebanese border, PLO sources were quick to state that "those who carried [the attack] out proceeded from inside the occupied territories."48 Yet this was rarely true, and the PLO's disclaimers were for the most part intended to divert Israeli wrath away from the PLO's Lebanese sanctuary. The PLO's tendency to accord blame for continuing cross-border raids on "undisciplined elements" during its discussions with the Lebanese government was no less misleading. Such claims merely masked the fact that, amid the decreased unity and increased political competition within the PLO marked by the formation of the Rejection Front, it had become increasingly unlikely that the various tanzimat would halt their Lebanese operations. Rejection Front organizations used cross-border attacks to demonstrate their militancy and as a means of derailing the PLO's diplomatic moves. Fateh and the DFLP used similar attacks to advertise their continued commitment to armed struggle, and as a means of demonstrating the need to include the PLO in any steps towards a regional settlement. Even if it had wished to, no one guerrilla group could restrict its operations without damage to its Palestinian popular support. Indeed, the fact that most Palestinians in Lebanon originated from within the borders of pre-1967 Israel, and were consequently less likely to compromise on issues of militancy and the maximalist goal of liberating all Palestine, made the pressure for continued cross-border operations all the more intense.49
Among the results of this was increased friction between the guerrillas on the one hand, and southern villagers and the Lebanese authorities on the other. March and August 1974 both saw shooting incidents between fida'iyyin and police. In Sidon an armed guerrilla protest sparked by the latter was broken up by PASC. August also saw a protest by the population of the southern village of Rashaya against Israeli attacks, to which the PLO responded by withdrawing guerilla units from the immediate area. A second demonstration occurred in the village of Blida two months later. There were clashes between the PFLP and Lebanese Army on October 16, and again (with PFLP and ALF) on January 18, escalating into a rocket attack against the Lebanese military barracks in Tyre on January 20. A PLO statement condemned this latter incident in unusually strong language as "a premeditated and reckless act by irresponsible members of the PFLP," and vowed to "strike with an iron fist and put an end to such acts which only serve the enemy." The PLO's regret was reemphasized a few days later, in a meeting between 'Arafat and Prime Minister al-Sulh. Needless to say, such events, combined with Israeli destruction in the south, intensified rightist criticism of the Palestinian armed presence. In January, Jumayyil called for an end to the "anarchy" within the Palestinian movement. One month later he submitted a memorandum to the President requesting a referendum on the Cairo Agreement which, he claimed, most Lebanese wished to see ended.50
The Road to Civil War
Within Lebanon, the domestic economic and political crisis continued unabated. Early in 1976 a series of events in Sidon primed an already explosive situation still further.
On February 26 local fishermen held a rally in the port city to protest the government's decision to grant an extensive fishing concession to the newly-formed "Protein Company." The company, headed by Camille Chamoun, planned to undertake extensive mechanized offshore fishing operations, and was seen by local inshore fishermen as a serious threat to their livelihood. Soon after the rally began, however, the demonstrators were confronted by units of the Lebanese Army. Shots rang out: Ma'ruf Sa'd, former Sidon Deputy and leader of the local Popular Nasirite Organization, was fatally wounded at the head of the protesters. The security forces were blamed.
The shooting (and Sa'd's death from his wounds March 6) sparked almost two weeks of intermittent rioting in which dozens were killed. In Sidon local militiamen and anti-government demonstrators clashed with the army amidst persistent reports that Palestinian guerrillas from local refugee camps had intervened in support of their National Movement allies.
Events in Sidon rapidly assumed the scale of a national political crisis. The National Movement and its supporters saw in the city the brutal suppression of legitimate protest on behalf of the status quo. It demanded the resignation of General Ghanim, and pressed its calls for fundamental changes to the Lebanese system. These calls were echoed by members of the traditional Muslim elite, and by the Tahaluf which submitted a reform plan of its own which would have curtailed the power of the presidency and altered the structure of the Army. The Phalange and LNP, on the other hand, saw in the same events in Sidon proof positive of leftist subversion and Palestinian interference in Lebanon's internal affairs. The two parties were soon organizing rallies of up to 35,000 supporters to defend "their" army against charges of bias and brutality. The stage was set for a devastating conflict-civil and regional-in Lebanon. The curtain would rise a few weeks later.
1. Radio Beirut, 5 December 1969, 4 February 1970, al-Hayat (Beirut), 7 January 1970, Middle East News Agency (MENA) 20 January 1970, in MERecord 1969-70, pp. 923-925, 927, 929; Jureidini and Hazen, The Palestinian Movement in Politics, pp. 71-72; AW, 16 January 1970.
2. Text of the communique in AW, 17 January 1970, pp. 18-19. It was widely reported in the Lebanese press at the time that the authorities were preventing Sa'iqa forces from entering Lebanon, and that the communique was more a product of Syrian pressure than Palestinian discontent.
3. al-Jarida, 21 November 1969, al-Hayat, 3 January 1970, in MERecord 1969-70, pp. 923-924; Statement by the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon, 25 February 1970, in IDP 1970, pp. 763-764.
4. AW, 16 January 1970, p. 3.
5. al-Nahar, 14 December 1969, in AWW, 17 January 1970, p. 16.
6. al-Jarida, 28 May 1970, in MERecord 1969-70, p. 927. Data on Lebanese border operations from MERecord 1969-70, p. 215.
7. Muhsin in al-Nahar, 4 January 1970, AWW, 17 January 1970, p. 16; interview with Salah Khalaf, 24 January 1987. Asked what proportion of the Cairo Agreement was implemented during the 1969-75 period, the Fateh Central Committee member also suggested the figure of 50%.
8. MERecord 1969-70, p. 211.
9. According to the survey, 46% of the Lebanese population expressed "absolute support," 40% "reserved support," and 11% "no support" for the guerillas. Asked about guerilla activities against Israel from Lebanese territory, 32% expressed "absolute support," 30% "reserved support," and 34% "no support" for such activities. al-Nahar, 17 November 1969; Michael W. Suleiman, "Crisis and Revolution in Lebanon," Middle East Journal 26, 1 (Winter 1972): 11-24.
10. Concluding statement issued by the 7th session of the PNC, IDP 1970, p. 828.
11. Interview with Dr. Nabil Sha'th, Cairo, 9 November 1986. Dr. Sha'th was delegated responsibility for establishing new links with the Christian community in 1969, and served as the Fateh/Palestinian representative to a number of Christian organizations from 1968 to 1974.
12. Salibi, Crossroads to Civil War, p. 82.; Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 161.
13. Lebanese army communique, and statement by Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon in AW, 19 March 1970, p. 3; Junblat's comments in AW, 20 March 1970, p. 2.
14. AW, 26 March 1970, p. 3, 27 March 1970, pp. 2-3; Jonathan Randal, Going All the Way: Christian Warlords, Israeli Adventurers and the War in Lebanon, rev. ed., (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), p. 116.
15. AW, 26 March 1970, p. 3, Statement issued by Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon, IDP 1970, pp. 779-781; Yasir 'Arafat in al-Ahram (Cairo), 23 May 1970, in IDP 1970, pp. 807-808; AW, 31 March 1970, pp. 2-3, 23 May 1970, p. 3; April agreement in Middle East Reporter (henceforth MER), 23 May 1987, p. 7; text of six-point PLO-Lebanese agreement as published in al-Anwar, 29 May 1970, AW, 30 May 1970, p. 21; Statement by Minister of Information, in IDP 1970, p. 813; MER 1969-70, p. 927, 929.
16. AW, 16 May 1970, p. 11, 1 June 1970, p. 2.
17. Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 166. For Junblat an additional attraction was Franjiyya's agreement not to undo the legalization of the SSNP, Ba'th and Communist parties which Junblat had decreed shortly before vacating the Ministry of the Interior. Franjiyya was also on very close personal terms with President Asad of Syria, who in turn supported the PLO and LNM in Lebanon. Without the support of Junblat's parliamentary bloc Franjiyya would not have secured his one-vote margin of victory in the August 1970 elections.
18. Text of statement by Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon in AW, 2 November 1970, pp. 7-8; Daily Star, 1 January 1971, in RAW 1971, p. 279; Jureidini and Hazen, The Palestinian Movement in Politics, p. 74; ARR, 1-15 January 1972, p. 23; AWW, 8 January 1972, p. 34. Sa'iqa was also involved in conflict with the Popular Nasirite Organization in Sidon in August 1970, stemming from tension arising from Nasir's acceptance (and Syria's rejection) of the 1970 Rogers Peace Plan. The matter was resolved after PASC and PLO intervention. Daily Star, 25 August 1970, Voice al al-'Asifa (clandestine), 25 August 1970, in RAW 1970, pp. 5144-5145.
19. O'Neill, Armed Struggle In Palestine, p. 242. Major Israeli attacks into Lebanon were mounted in January 1971 (against the fishing village of Safarand); 10 January 1972; 25-28 February; 9 March; 12 May; 21 June; 8 and 16-17 September (in retaliation for the killing of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games), 15 October, and 24 November 1972.
20. MER, 23 May 1987, p. 7.
21. ARR, 1-15 January 1972, p. 22; 16-31 January 1972, p. 45; 16-30 June 1972, p. 306-307; AW, 25 September 1972, p. 2; Edgar O'Ballance, Arab Guerilla Power 1967-1972, (London: Faber & Faber, 1974), p. 206, 209.
22. ARR, 15-28 February 1973, p. 84.
23. PLO Executive Committee statement, WAFA (Palestine News Agency), 10 April 1973; Statement by PSP leader Kamal Junblat, al-Muharrir, 14 April 1973; see also the statement by the Arab Front for Participating in the Palestinian Revolution, al-Muharrir, 17 April 1973; all in IDP 1973, pp. 433-436.
24. ARR, 1-15 May 1973, pp. 205-206; Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 162. The cost of the border closure between May 8 and the eventual agreement between the PLO and the Lebanese government on May 17 was later estimated at L£115-125 million ($35 million); al-Nahar, 4 July 1979, p. 9 (JPRS).
25. Statement by the PLO Executive Committee regarding the clashes in Lebanon, al-Muharrir, 6 May 1973, in IDP 1973, pp. 439-440.
26. Text of the Milkart protocols in Lebanese Center for Documation and Research, Lebanese-Israeli Negotiations, (Beirut: CEDRE, 1984), pp. 265-269. See also Riad, The Struggle for Peace in the Middle East, pp. 235-236.
27. Said et al, A Profile of the Palestinian People, p. 13; O'Ballance, Arab Guerilla Power 1967-1972, p. 205.
28. George Habash, al-Akhbar (Beirut), 4 August 1973, in IDP 1973, pp. 457-458 (emphasis added). For Palestinian views on the lessons of Black September, see also Nabil Sha'th, ed., al-Muqawama al-filastiniyya wa-al-nizam al-urduni [The Palestinian Resistance and the Jordanian Regime], (Beirut: Center for Palestine Studies, 1971).
29. Salah Khalaf (Fateh), al-Hurriyya, 18 June 1973, pp. 7-8; Abu Adnan (DFLP), al-Siyasa (Kuwait), 17 June 1973 (JPRS).
30. 'Arafat's remarks in WAFA, 25 January 1975, ARR, 16-31 January 1975, p. 80. The PFLP's position can be found in Tasks of the New Stage, (Beirut: PFLP Foreign Relations Committee, 1973), p. 110; George Habash, al-Akhbar, 4 August 1973, IDP 1973, pp. 455-456.
31. Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle: Israel, the United States, and the Palestinians, (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 1984), pp. 181-182; Randal, Going All the Way, pp. 188-194. On Israel's historic involvement in South Lebanon, see: Hof, The Galilee Divided; Elaine Hagopian and Samih Farsoun, eds., South Lebanon AAUG Special Report No. 2, (Detroit: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, August 1978).
32. Khalidi, Conflict and Violence in Lebanon, p. 125; Hudson, "The Palestinian Factor in the Lebanese Civil War," p. 267.
33. al-Nahar, 12, 13 June 1973; AWW, 16 June 1973, pp. 15-18. According to Nabil Sha'th, however, the PFLP, DFLP, and PFLP-GC had caused "deep problems" in relations with the Lebanese government during the May crisis for which "Fateh paid the price." Interview, 9 January 1987.
34. One survey of conditions found an average of ten persons per one room in the al-Shiyah quarter; in the al-Maslakh and Karantina quarters 85% of inhabitants lived in small huts accommodating, on average, 8-14 persons. There was no running water or electricity. See: Walid W. Kazziha, Palestine in the Arab Dilemma, (London: Croom Helm, 1979), pp. 41-43; Samih Farsoun, "Student Protests and the Coming Crisis in Lebanon," MERIP Reports 19 (August 1973): 3-14; Middle East Research and Information Project, "Lebanon A Year Later: The Crisis Deepens," MERIP Reports 30 (August 1974): 26-28.
35. ARR, 16-31 January 1973, p. 33; Goria, Sovereignty and Leadership in Lebanon, p. 136. The emergence of the "revolutionary-socialist-democratic-secular" critique of the status quo among Lebanese students is examined in Halim Barakat, Lebanon in Strife: Student Preludes to the Civil War, (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1977).
36. ARR, 16-31 January 1973, p. 33; Jumayyil memorandum to President Franjiyya cited in Stoakes, "The Supervigilantes," p. 222.
37. al-'Amal al-Shahri, May 1977, pp. 25-35, cited in Khater, "Lebanese Politics and the Palestinian Resistance Movement, 1967-1976," pp. 209-212. The report was signed by Joseph Abu Khalil, Charles Dahdah, Karim Pakraduni, Ibrahim Najjar, and Antoine Najim.
38. ARR, 16-30 September 1973, p. 413, 1-15 January 1974, p. 6; Khater, "Lebanese Politics and the Palestinian Resistance Movement, 1967-1976," p. 142.
39. Interview with Yasir 'Arafat, Baghdad, 29 December 1986; Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, pp. 171-172; AW, 11 April 1973, p. 11. The PLO was later to maintain that approval for its own military preparations was received from President Franjiyya himself, who admitted to Lebanon's inability to defend the camps. Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 167; Shafiq al-Hut, cited in Alan Hart, 'Arafat, p. 365; interview with Yasir 'Arafat in al-Nahar al-'arabi wa al-duwali, 27 August-2 September 1984, p. 22.
40. al-Hurriyya, 18 June 1973, pp. 7-8.
41. Interview with Salah Khalaf, 24 January 1987. The Palestinian delegation also included Salah Salah of the PFLP, Yasir 'Abd al-Rabbu of the DFLP, and a Sa`iqa representative; on the other side were Amin Jumayyil, Joseph Chader, and Karim Pakraduni of the Phalange politburo. Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, pp. 162-163; "Resolutions of the Lebanese Phalange Party," al-Amal, 26 September 1972, in RAW 1972, p. 1576; al-Amal, 29 September 1973, in IDP 1973, pp. 467-468.
42. For Yasir 'Arafat, the ability of the PLO to participate in the October war was one of the most important contributions of its Lebanese base; interview, 29 December 1986. The Syrian government's subsequent attempts to diminish or ignore the Palestinian contribution on the Golan front was one of the early causes of the friction between 'Arafat and Syrian President Asad that emerged after 1976. For details of PLO military operations during the war, and the brief improvement of the Lebanese political climate, see Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, pp. 121-133, 163.
43. Text of Seventh Arab Summit Conference Resolutions in Journal of Palestine Studies 4, 3 (Spring 1975): 177-178.
44. Political Program adopted by the 12th session of the Palestine National Council, IDP 1974, p. 449. For background to the 10-point program see Gresh, The Struggle Within, pp. 156-171.
45. ARR, 16-31 June 1974, p. 267; Statement by the PFLP announcing its withdrawal from the PLO Executive Committee, and joint communique issued by Palestinian Rejection Front, IDP 1974, pp. 500, 512-513.
46. al-Amal, 30 May 1974, in IDP 1974, pp. 444-445.
47.Manchester Guardian, 7 January 1975. Among the larger Israeli attacks during this period were those of 12 April 1974, against six Lebanese villages; heavy air-raids on May 16 and June 18-20; the sinking of 30 Lebanese fishing boats in Tyre, Sidon, and Ras al-Shak on July 8; a series of clashes along the border zone October 28-November 5; artillery shelling, a car bombing, and air-raids on December 7, 10, 12 and 30; and cross-border raids 1-4 and 11-17 January 1975.
48. Tawfiq al-Safadi (secretary-general of the Higher Political Committee for Palestinian Affairs in Lebanon), al-Nahar, 24 April 1974, p. 3 (JPRS), emphasis added. ARR, 16-31 October 1973, p. 501, 1-14 February 1974, p. 48, 1-15 March 1974, p. 83, 1-15 July 1974, p. 288; statement by al-Safadi in al-Nahar, 18 April 1974, in IDP 1974, p. 430. The October 1973 freeze was reported solely by Lebanese sources; the others were all confirmed by PLO spokespersons. Major Palestinian attacks likely staged from Lebanon during this period include the 11 April 1974 attack against Qiryat Shemona (PFLP-GC) and the 15 May 1974 attack against Ma'alot (DFLP), both of which resulted in very heavy Israeli civilian casualties; a June 13 raid on Shamir (PFLP-GC); a June 24 attack on Nahariya (Fateh); a December 6 raid on Rosh Haniqra; and a 5 March 1975 attack in Tel Aviv (Fateh).
49. A survey conducted by the Palestine Research Center at this time found that 80% of refugees in Lebanon opposed the idea of a Palestinian "mini-state" on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. See Abu Iyad, My Home, My Land, p. 142; Picard, "Liban: guerre civile, conflit régional," p. 58.
50. ARR, 1-15 March 1974, p. 83, 1-15 August 1974, p. 324, 16-31 October 1974, p. 456, 16-31 January 1975, p. 94; New York Times, 22 August 1974, p. 4; Jumayyil statement in Center for the Study of the Modern Arab World, CEMAM Reports 1975 Vol. 3, (Beirut: Dar el-Mashreq, 1975), pp. 15-23.