JERUSALEM (Feb. 5)
Israel hopes to enter a customs union with the European Common Market, Moshe Allon, director of the Foreign Ministry’s economic division, said here today, as 18 members of the European Parliament, who arrived in Israel last night, started a week’s study about a possible accord on this issue between Israel and Eur mart.
The 18-member delegation represents five of Euromart’s six countries discussing Israel’s possible participation in a customs union with members of Israel’s Cabinet, as well as with private business and financial circles here. The members of the mission represent Italy, France, West Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. Only Luxembourg is absent.
The Europeans were received by President Izhak Ben-Zvi, conferred with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, and were guests at a luncheon given today by Kaddish Luz, Speaker of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament). Then the mission members split into three groups which will conduct separate talks with Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, Commerce and Industry Minister Pinhas Sapin, and Transportation Minister Yitzhak Ben-Aharon.
The European Common Market could prove “catastrophic” for Israel, Mr. Allon said today at a news conference, unless a customs union accord is reached. Sixty percent of Israel’s exports go to Europe, he said, while many of the raw materials for products processed or manufactured here come from countries that are members of the Common Market. In 1961, Israel increased its exports to Common Market member countries to $80,000,000, as compared with exports to these countries in 1959 totaling $41,000,000.
Mr. Allon said that about 100 items of Israel’s basic exports would be prejudiced under the Euromart’s customs policies. He declared Israel was prepared to realign its economy to the Common Market requirements “within a reasonable transitory period, however radical some of these adjustments may be.” Israel industry, he stated, could adapt itself gradually to the situation.