The United States has a vital interest in avoiding an armed confrontation with the Soviet Union in the Middle East. We may not play a very positive role in the region, if that means bringing about a settlement to the present stalemate. But the dangers inherent in the de facto situation are not overwhelmingly great. The most probable development in U.S. policy over the next few years is a gradual lessening of concern with the area and acceptance of the de facto situation, combined with a willingness to engage in modest aid programs and perhaps larger efforts involving refugees or desalination. Formal treaties, massive military involvement, and active diplomacy all seem unlikely. Soviet influence may increase dramatically. The least known and most dynamic element is the Palestinian Arab population and the commando groups. Whether their aspirations and energies will lead to the hopeful outcome of a Palestinian state, or whether violence and the pursuit of unrealizable goals will decrease the possibility of a settlement is an open question. 11 pp.
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