Israel's continued military operations in Lebanon are subjecting its relations with Egypt to reassessment and casting a shadow on Egypt's ties with the United States.
The collective massacre of Palestinian refugees in Beirut, for which Egypt is holding Israel directly responsible, was interpreted here as dramatizing Israel's adamant rejection of President Reagan's Mideast peace proposals and underlining its determination to prevent them from being implemented.
This explains Egypt's decision to recall its ambassador to Tel Aviv for the first time since it made peace with Israel 31/2 years ago.
The move is an expression of renewed Egyptian uneasiness with existing ties with Israel, normalized as an implementation of the peace treaty.
The timing of Israel's march on Beirut coincided with preparations for the US-sponsored peace efforts to begin. Egypt's keenness to build on the positive basis of the plan and encourage other parties to join in the peace process has led President Hosni Mubarak to call on President Reagan to assume full responsibility as peacemaker and guarantor of peace in the area.
Egypt has formally requested the United States to ensure Israel's immediate withdrawal from Beirut. It has also asked the US to restore order and to prevent armed clashes from spilling over to other parts of Lebanon by redeploying the multinational peacekeep-ing force.
Egypt's alarm and outrage over last week's turn of events in Lebanon stemmed from concern that more violence in Lebanon would have an impact on:
* US ability and willingness to maintain the momentum of President Reagan's peace plan.
* The tone of moderation characterizing Palestine Liberation Organization statements on negotiating peace with Israel. There is concern that the mass killings of disarmed Palestinians will result in the alienation of the PLO from US efforts in the Mideast.
* Israel's position as an irreversible military power in the region. There is concern that it will strengthen Israel's capability of dictating its terms to weaker neighbors.
* A weakening of President Mubarak, by giving his critics in Egypt and the Arab world a justifiable reason to attack him for having maintained peace with Israel.