PARIS (Jun. 16)
The landslide victory of M. Pompidou in the run-off election indicated to political observers here that French voters still favor the broad policies of former President Charles-de Gaulle but without the arbitrariness and inflexibility of the 78-year-old general on such issues as the Middle East, Britain’s entry into the European Common Market and France’s relations with NATO.
M. Pompidou won nearly 58 percent of the vote to defeat interim President Alain Poher and succeed Gen. de Gaulle as President of the Fifth Republic for the next seven years.
On the Middle East, the consensus of informed opinion here is that the new President will edge away from the openly pro-Arab stance taken by Gen. de Gaulle and move closer to true neutrality in the Arab-Israel conflict. These sources say that French public opinion favors Israel and M. Pompidou is far less willing than Gen. de Gaulle to scorn the polls. They also point out that the period of M. Pompidou’s Premiership in the de Gaulle Government was one in which Franco-Israeli relations were never better.
But most knowledgeable informants do not see any immediate, concrete moves by President-elect Pompidou such as lifting the embargo on aircraft, military equipment and spare parts which his predecessor imposed against Israel and, ostensibly, against the Arab belligerents in the June, 1967 Six-Day War.
Pro-Israel circles here hope that M, Pompidou may ease the embargo sufficiently to permit the delivery of Mirage V Jets which Israel bought and paid for in full over a year ago but are still being held in a French warehouse. Those hopes appeared to have been dashed last week when M. Pompidou, on the eve of the elections, said he favored a general arms embargo on all the belligerents in the June, 1967 war and thought that no country should supply war materials or equipment to either side.
That statement, in an interview published in the newspaper L’Aurore, was M. Pompidou’s most explicit on the Middle East during the campaign. He specifically exempted Lebanon from any arms embargo on the grounds that that country was not a belligerent and was “out of the fight.” But he left the door open to ease the embargo on Israel when he said that France would reconsider its embargo policy if it turned out that either of the two sides had received arms from France while the ban was in effect. M. Pompidou said he would study the files to make sure that the embargo was being administered fairly because “there can be no double standard for the parties concerned.”
Observers here also believe that M. Pompidou will continue to support the Big Four Middle East talks. Bitterly opposed by Israel, the idea of Four Power mediation efforts in the Middle East conflict originated with Gen. de Gaulle who is credited with having persuaded Washington, Moscow and London to go along with them.