Last updated on: 5/14/2008 10:09:00 AM PST

What Effect Did the 1982 Lebanon War Have on Arafat and the PLO?



General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Benny Morris, Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, in his 2001 book Righteous Victims, wrote:

"The PLO military infrastructure in southern Lebanon was destroyed, and the organization was driven out of Beirut. Many PLO fighters were killed, and it lost most of its heavy equipment and ammunition stockpiles. Its headquarters was reestablished in faraway Tunisia, and its military units were dispersed in camps around the Middle East and North Africa, no longer posing a threat along or near Israel's borders. The PLO and Arafat emerged from the fray considerably weakened.

But the PLO was not destroyed or mortally wounded, as [Israeli Defense Minister] Sharon and [Israeli Prime Minister] Begin had hoped and planned. Indeed, it could well be argued that the drubbing the organization received drove it, in the end, to moderate its positions, a process that culminated in Arafat's 1988 declaration recognizing Israel and repudiating terrorism. Thus, instead of demolishing the PLO...it can be argued that the invasion of Lebanon had, albeit very violently, groomed the PLO for Participation in the diplomacy and peace process that was to characterize the 1990s and was to pave the way for its assumption of authority in parts of the West Bank and Gaza; In sum, Begin and Sharon, by invading Lebanon, can be said to have made a major contribution to the establishment of a Palestinian state."

2001 - Benny Morris, PhD 

The Congressional Quarterly, in the 2000 edition of The Middle East, wrote:

"The departure of the PLO from Beirut, which was completed by September 2 [1982], deprived the organization of its last base in the Arab world from which to make direct attacks on Israeli territory. The organization was now scattered throughout a variety of Arab countries, none of which bordered Israel, except Syria, whose policy was to disallow it autonomy of decision.

The PLO leadership regrouped in Tunis, and it appeared that the organization's significance had greatly diminished. This was an illusion, however, because the strength of the PLO, although forged on the concept of armed struggle against Israel, had never rested with its military capability. The broad range of international diplomatic support the PLO had garnered over the years as the institutional symbol of Palestinian nationalism had now become the principal basis of its legitimacy. In the years after the PLO's departure from Lebanon, it was this aspect of the organization that Arafat sought to husband and enhance."

2000 - Congressional Quarterly (CQ)