Jerusalem (Nov. 7)
The People’s Republic of China’s Premier Chou En-lai said yesterday that China cannot open normal relations with Israel despite the fact that Israel recently voted to seat mainland China in the United Nations and oust Taiwan, In an interview published by the Japanese daily Asahi Shimbun, Chou said fostering friendly relations with the people of Israel is not impossible. But, he added, Israel had started an “aggressive war” in the Middle East in 1967 and this issue has still not been settled. Israel recognized mainland China in 1950 but diplomatic relations have never been established.
Observers here said the language and tone of the statement were somewhat softer than previous Chinese announcements on Israel. They noted that Chou mentioned Israel by name, acknowledging that there is an Israeli state. Previously, Peking referred only to the “Zionist-imperialists.” Also, the statement focused on the 1967 Six-Day War, whereas in the past, official announcements from Peking viewed the very establishment of Israel as illegal and claimed that the 1948 war for Israel’s independence was designed to deprive the Palestine Arabs of their country.