Israel's invasion of Lebanon a week ago, which climaxed with a unilateral cease-fire yesterday, appears to have created as many problems for the Jewish state as for its Arab adversaries.
Judging by Israeli anger at the United States, which it accuses of ramrodding through the U.N. Security Council the call for Israel to withdraw, the invasion seems to have deepened the already considered differences with the United States.
At the same time, Israel's acceptance of a U.N. peacekeeping force along its borders means an end to the country's ability to destabilize southern Lebanon - and through it much of the Arab world - by its aid to Christian allies there.
Yet, israel's Palestinian adversaries have lost their freedom of maneuver at least temporarily in most of the one Middle Eastern nation where they still held away.
Politically, Israel has set its price for withdrawal from Lebanon so high - no Palestinians in the southern fifth of the country and no guerrilla activity in any of it - that the Israeli army may be forced to stay.
Staying could well involve Israel in a quagmire of guerrilla warfare, with all its potential for casualties in a society hypersensitive to such losses. Indeed, guerrilla activity is already going on behind Israeli lines.
It was Israeli long-range artillery fire over the last 18 months, often in response to guerrilla shelling of northern Israel and Christian Lebanese Villages, that forced up to 100,000 civilians to flee north - where the potential for anti-Isreal activity is likely to grow.
While the Palestinians are currently elated at having stood up to the mighty Israelis for a day longer than did the Arab armies in 1967, their future looks bleak.
The invasion once again demonstrated that Arab states are reluctant to come to the Palestinians' aid - especially when the gurrillas may have brought retribution on their heads by terrorism.
This time the Palestinians were let down not only by conservative Arab states, but also by their hard-line allies, who met in Damascus this week for 14 hours and failed to honor a 4-month-old mutual defence pledge to come to their aid.
The principal culprit, from the Palestinian viewpoint, was also their principal ally and sometimes enemy, Syria, Overextented in Lebanon, deserted by Egypt, Syria was not about to risk getting sucked into a war with Israel that Damascus could not hope to win.
SYrian President Hafez Assad implied in an interview last week that he favoured moving the largely Syrian 30,000-man Arab peacekeeping force into the 200-square-mile area still under Palestinian control. It is due north of the area occupied by Israel.
That, in effect, would put the Palestine Liberation Organization under direct Syrian controL. A move that some Israeli ministers have openly advocated.
Palestinian officals privately have been pessimistic for a long time, especially since Menachem Begin became Israeli Prime Minister last year.
About the most optimism one spokesman could muster was the assertion that "we are very slippery and the guys coming at us are very clumsy."
If past performances are any yard-stick, the Palestinians will wait until the shifting Arab world alliances are less unfavourable to their cause.
Indeed, over the years they appear to have developed an amazing ability to bounce back ever faster after each major setback, although perhaps the bounce is progressively lower.
oddly enough, the obvious victim of the agression - Lebanon - conceivably could be the only actor to emerge better off for the invasion.
President Elias Sarkis is credited wth being in a better position now than in the past 18 months to sit on the various warlords - ranging form right-wing Christians to the Palestinians - who defy his authourty.
World support for Lebanon in its week of travail - from the superpowers and Western Europe - has given Sarkis what one Lebanese politician calls "an international blank check" to get on with forming the governmnet of national reconciliation Lebanon so desperately needs.