INTRODUCTION: The American special envoy in the Middle East, Philip Habib, is continuing his talks with both Syrian and israeli leaders.
GV (MUTE) Assad and Habib meeting in Damascus. (2 SHOTS)
GVs UN forces on Golan Heights. (3 SHOTS)
SVs Begin and Habib meeting in Jerusalem.
Israel faces an election in six weeks. Mr. Begin is believed to want a resolution before then to enhance his popularity. With no concession from Syria, he may be forced to take military action. But a ground assault could involve high casualties, and even an air attack would not be risk free. Any attack that involved high casualties would almost certainly harm his chances, but failure to achieve a solution, leading to loss of face, would be equally damaging.
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The American special envoy in the Middle East, Philip Habib, is continuing his talks with both Syrian and israeli leaders. Earlier on Tuesday (19 May) he had talks with Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and other Syrian officials. Later he returned to Jerusalem for further talks with the Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Mr. Habib was believed to be carrying modified proposals to end the dispute over the placement of Syrian missiles in Lebanon. Even as he arrived, Israeli leaders were making new, tough statements.
SYNOPSIS: Mr. Habib was believed to be offering President Assad a modified plan under which Syrian missiles would be withdrawn gradually. But an official newspaper said Syria would make no concessions.
The missile issue has brought Israel and Syria to the brink of war. Here in the Golan Heights, United Nations forces keep the two sides apart. But, as in previous encounters, they could do little if serious hostilities began.
Mr. Begin has said the missiles must not remain. With no concessions from either side, the situation can only become more tense. But Mr. Habib hopes that even if he can't bring peace, he might be able to stave off war.