Schumann Indicates France Supports Big Four Mideast Demilitarized Zones Formula

Foreign Minister Maurice Schumann indicated today that France is supporting a Four Power Mideast peace formula that would establish demilitarized zones between Israel and the Arab states manned by United Nations peace-keeping forces and would require Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab territories, but not unconditionally. Addressing a foreign press luncheon here, M. Schumann said he believed the four powers–United States, Soviet Russia, Britain and France–were reaching some kind of accord but not one based on Israel’s unconditional evacuation. According to the French diplomat, the formula taking shape would link Israeli withdrawal to a statement from Egypt, possibly registered with the UN Secretariat, pledging not to attack Israel and to keep the peace. A second phase of the formula would concern itself with a solution of the Arab refugee problem and negotiations wherein Israel and the Arab states would work out mutually acceptable boundaries.

M. Schumann said France would like to see a return of the UN peace-keeping force to the area but under an agreement that would not lead to their hasty withdrawal as in 1967. He stressed that neither France nor the other Big Powers expected Israel to withdraw unconditionally from the territories it occupied in the June, 1967 war. That assertion indicated a reversal of past French and Soviet policy which supported the Arab demand for Israeli withdrawal before any peace-making machinery was put into operation. The Foreign Minister, who accompanied President Georges Pompidou on his American visit earlier this month, insisted that France was not against Israel. He said, however, that his government would judge Israel on its approach to the Four Power talks which Israel, hitherto, has bitterly rejected. “If Israel realizes that France’s only interest is peace and that France wants a solution insuring Israel’s survival, relations between Paris and Israel will become normal again,” M. Schumann said.

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