Lebanon and the Palestinian Problem
Bashir's attitude towards the Palestinian question was not dictated by a spirit of vengeance, or hatred. In this context, his logic was clear to all those who face the facts honestly, squarely and courageously. Bashir was well aware of the fact that Lebanese society was full of contradictions, and that the presence of the Palestine Resistance in Lebanon was likely to act as a detonator to those contradictions.
Furthermore, he knew that the social structure of the country was formed along sectarian lines, and that there was no ignoring the facts : Lebanon was a melting-pot of ethnical and confessional groups.
Historians and Social Researchers have established the fact that every ethnical or religious group clings to its specific features and identity. Any contrary assertion constitutes a falsification of the factual sociological islamo-Christian realities.
Hence, the racial and religious kaleidoscope could be equated to a keg of gunpowder,ready to blow up at the first spark... And it became obvious that the Palestinian armed presence in Lebanon was the factor most likely to provide that spark !
Besides its potential role as a detonator, the Palestinian presence was of a nature to prevent any restructuration of Lebanese society along lines of harmonious compatibility, rather than a pattern of latent hostility and potential clashes between conflicting communities.
This is mainly why Bashir adopted a hostile attitude to the Palestine Resistance, for their exploitation of the internal contradictions to their own ends. During the forty years of independence, the unique Lebanese "Formula of '43'" had been unshakable, and had kept the Lebanese of all races and sects living in harmony, in spite of a few minor incidents of an isolated nature... and now the Philistines had come to tear it apart, and with it, the whole country!
If we follow Sheikh Bashir's policy towards the Palestine Resistance, we will find that it describes and ascending curve. At first, he had invited them as guests in Lebanon, asking them to organize their presence in a disciplined and orderly manner, and to respect
Lebanon's sovereignty and the authority of the State. Bashir gives a brief outline of these events, in chronological sequence :
"The Palestinians are guests here, and they should behave as guests, not as masters, or as a state within a State, and an army above their host's Army...".
Again, on the forty-fifth anniversary of the Kataeb Party, he called for "order and discipline in the ranks of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its various splinter-groups, and respect for Lebanon's complete sovereignty. "He appealed to the P.L.O. to heed his call, so that relations between the Lebanese and the Palestinians might move from the stage of chronic hostility to one of trust and respect, in keeping with the requirements of the phased Palestinian presence in Lebanon.
Sheikh Bashir particularly called attention to his use of the world "phased presence", because what was originally to be a temporary halt in the host country had later turned out to be a permanent settlement or squatting of an unwanted rabble. Bashir reiterated his hospitality towards the "guests" and the absence of any feelings of enmity, saying that all he was concerned with was the Lebanese cause. He added : " We have no desire to throw these people into the sea, or to annihilate them. All we ask of them is to start looking for another land to settle on , outside the Lebanese territory."
Bashir therefore called upon the PLO to remove... "all the signs of implantation that had so far been achieved on Lebanese soil, and which the PLO had carefully tried to hide from local public opinion, as well as from Arab and international opinion,through their mendacious declarations, denying everything, and making statements that were in flagrant contradiction with the patent facts."
Bashir reflected upon the immediate consequences of an eventual Palestinian settlement in the areas occupied by their armed forces, and came to the conclusion that this would inevitably lead to a partition of Lebanon. He used the "stick and the carrot" alternately : "Be smart," he told them, "if the outer world notes your inclination to settle in this area, all those who were actively lobbying for your cause will become lukewarm and conclude that they need no longer bother to seek a homeland for the Palestinians, since these have chosen implantation on Lebanese soil..."
Sheikh Bashir therefore held the PLO leaders responsible for any consequences that might result from their policy aiming at linking the fate of South Lebanon with that of the West Bank. He asked them - and his question turned out to be a prophecy - "If a point of no-return is reached, then a call to Israel for help might become urgent, and a critical situation would develop. But who will be responsible for that ? The PLO leadership alone shall bear the responsibility and nobody else. Therefore, get out of Lebanon while the going's good"