PARIS (Jan. 29)
Widespread opposition to President Charles de Gaulle’s pro-Arab. anti-Israel policies gained momentum among Frenchmen of virtually all political affiliations today in the aftermath of the Iraq public executions, which set off a wave of revulsion in France. This may have major political consequences for the de Gaulle regime which is negotiating to sell arms to Iraq and other Arab countries while maintaining a total embargo on arms shipments to Israel, JTA correspondent Edwin Eytan reports. The climate is such that the Government has reportedly post- poned an official statement on Defense Minister Pierre Messmer’s recent arms sales mission to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. According to unofficial sources, M. Messmer concluded a number of deals which provide for Kuwaiti and Arabian financing of French arms deliveries to Lebanon and Jordan.
For the first time since the current Franco-Israeli crisis began, a number of prominent Gaullist leaders have openly expressed opposition to their chief’s embargo on military equipment and spare parts to Israel. They and other Gaullists and members of other political factions attended a meeting of the “Franco-Israel Parliamentary Group” which unanimously demanded an end to the embargo and denounced the “Baghdad killings.” A Centrist deputy, Pierre Abelin, asked Foreign Minister Michel Debre for “a public condemnation by France of the . . . murders” and demanded a reversal of the embargo “in view of this new and tragic development.”
The Iraqi Embassy has been flooded with protests from a broad spectrum of French leaders and organizations. Among them are 1968 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rene Cassin, the League for the Rights of Man and the Council of Europe.