JERUSALEM (Jun. 16)
Israeli diplomatic circles expressed the hope today that the election of Georges Pompidou as President of France would herald the resumption of the Franco-Israeli “dialogue” which was cut off by former President Charles de Gaulle after the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
Their hope was based on the expectation that M. Pompidou, although a Gaullist, will be able to follow a more independent line by virtue of his landslide victory and the belief that he is more inclined to listen to Israel’s side than was his predecessor and is personally more favorably disposed toward Israel than Gen. de Gaulle.
The subjects that would constitute a hoped-for Franco-Israeli “dialogue” are, according to diplomats here, the approaches of both countries towards peace in the Middle East; the de Gaulle embargo on military equipment and spare parts to Israel, especially the 50 Mirage V Jets which Israel has paid for but remain undelivered; and the question of Israel’s application for associate membership in the European Common Market which France has opposed for the past two years.
It was learned that Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban has been holding preliminary talks with French Ambassador Francis Hure for the past two weeks as a first step toward warming up Franco-Israeli diplomatic activity which has been frozen since June, 1967. According to Israeli officials Mr. Eban is exploring ways of getting the “dialogue” restarted in his talks with the French envoy. He has expressed the hope that relations between the two countries would begin with a new approach, not weighed down by events of the past two years.
The resumption of normal relations with France, it is believed here, would involve a visit to Paris by Premier Golda Meir and one by Mr. Eban as soon as President-elect Pompidou appoints his new Prime Minister and his Cabinet.
But Israel’s attempts to edge France away from the Mideast stance taken by Gen. de Gaulle are likely to be prolonged and difficult, knowledgeable diplomats said. It is already abundantly clear that the new French President will depend for some time on the orthodox Gaullist members of his party and on the good-will of the General, despite his electoral majority, they said, Israel’s chances of success will depend in large measure on the men whom M. Pompidou names to his Cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense. France’s current Foreign Minister, Michael Debre, declared before the election that “France’s foreign policy will continue along the lines laid down by Gen. de Gaulle.” It is not known whether M. Debre will retain his post in the new Government. Another factor influencing Israel’s chances to improve relations with France will be the general direction of French policy on such questions as Europe and the Atlantic Alliance. One of Israel’s objectives is to shift France a more neutral attitude on the Middle East at the United Nations and as a participant in the current Four Power talks.