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Belgium, Israel Said to Differ on Arab Intentions

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Visiting Belgian Foreign Minister Pierre Harmel and Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban conferred here today but what transpired between them is a matter of dispute. According to circles “close to the Belgian delegation” which were quoted by the Israeli radio, certain “differences of opinion appeared.” Authoritative Israeli sources said later that the hour-long meeting was devoted mainly to hearing M. Harmel’s impressions of his recent visit to Lebanon, Syria and Egypt and that nothing was “discussed.” Harmel arrived here last night, accompanied by four senior Ministry officials from Brussels. His visit is considered especially significant in view of his recent tour of Arab countries and the fact that Belgium is currently a member of the UN Security Council and one of the six member nations of the European Common Market. The growing political role played by the ECC countries is of particular interest to Israel.

Sources here said that whatever subjects Harmel and Eban may have touched upon today, their assessment of Arab intentions differ. Belgian, sources said Harmel told his Israeli host that “The Arab leaders are truly interested in peace but want far-reaching concessions from Israel” as their price. The well known Israeli view is that the Arab leaders do not really want peace but insist on major territorial concessions in order to improve their strategic position for a new war against Israel. Harmel visited the Wailing Wall today and placed a wreath on the Martyre Tomb at the Yad Vashem. Asked by reporters if he could visualize the city being partitioned anew by concrete walls, he replied non-commitally. “I, like most Belgians, pray that Jerusalem may cease being a city of strife and may become a city of peace and cooperation.” This afternoon, Harmel visited Moslem shrines and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where, as a devout Catholic, he performed his devotions and offered confession. Tomorrow he will visit the Knesset. Harmel is the fifth ECC Foreign Minister to visit Israel and the second this month. Earlier in July, Israel played host to Foreign Minister Walter Scheel of West Germany. The only ECC Foreign Minister who has not visited Israel to date is Maurice Schumann, of France.

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