PARIS (Dec. 20)
Two influential members of the French Parliament–Diamede Catroux, of the National Assembly, and Senator Andrew Monteil–warned the Arab states yesterday that, unless the Arab League and its members cease their efforts to intimidate French firms dealing with Israel, they will risk losing the friendship and credit which the Arabs still have in this country.
Both members of Parliament told a press conference here that they are opposed to Arab interference in internal French affairs as shown by threats emanating from the Arab League’s anti-Israel boycott office against Gen. Pierre Koenig, one of France’s outstanding war heroes.
Gen. Koenig has been requested in a letter from the League to resign his presidency of the Alliance France-Israel or quit his membership on the boards of directors of five French companies. One of those companies is the Societe Industrielle et Financiere des Petroles, an oil prospecting and refining combine operating in the Sahara Desert with the cooperation of the Government of Algeria, which is a member of the Arab League.
The threat against Gen. Koenig has provoked a storm of protests all over this country. The general, a Catholic, was commander in chief of all French resistance forces during World War II, and holds the highest French award for military heroism, the Companion of Liberation.
Appealing to the Arab states to refrain from further actions, M. Catroux and Sen. Monteil said that only by dropping such boycott moves could the Arabs “preserve their ties with France.” M. Catroux noted that the Arab League itself is “a legally non-existent organization.” so that, officially, the French Foreign Ministry “can do little about it.” But he warned Arab states that, if they boycott French companies, they would be liable to prosecution and might also suffer from a “spontaneous” counter-boycott in this country.
The pro-Israel organization headed by Gen. Koenig includes 200 members of the French Parliament, more than half of them Gaullists.