Israel Watching for French Diplomatic Moves in Mideast
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Israel Watching for French Diplomatic Moves in Mideast

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Jerusalem is watching diplomatic developments in Europe carefully following reports that Egypt is pressing France to embark on a new Mideast peace initiative. With their military options effectively closed for the foreseeable future by the Soviet exodus, the Egyptians are thought to be seeking progress on the diplomatic front. Last month they tried to revive the Jarring mission, and failed. They are now reportedly trying to interest France in an idea mooted vaguely some time ago by UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim for an Egypt-Israel peace conference with the participation of the Four Powers.

A senior official in Jerusalem said today that to date Israel knows of no firm and precisely stated French plan along these lines but there have been reports of French interest in the idea. Israeli diplomats have reported a feeling in Western European capitals that some form of help ought to be extended to Egyptian President Sadat, the man who drove out the Russians. With this in mind, the Germans are known to be considering offering economic aid to Cairo.

Israel for its part does not object to the extension of economic aid to the Arabs. There have also been reports of late that Egypt is seeking to buy weapons from Britain which has no embargo policy on arms for the Mideast, but treats each sale on its merits. This approach has always suited Israel in the past as she too buys various armaments in Britain. Government circles here are apparently not disturbed at the present time by reports that Egypt may seek arms from Britain.


It is believed here that a possible diplomatic initiative inspired by France towards Egyptian-Israeli negotiations with the Big Four powers present will be supported by Britain which is anxious, out of EEC considerations not to cross the Quai Dorsay if it can be avoided.

Israel has instructed its ambassadors in Europe to hold talks with their accredited governments to find out what French intentions are and what other Europeans feel about the post-Soviet exodus prospects in the Mideast. A number of Israel envoys are on home leave and they have been consulting with the Foreign Minister and his senior staff on latest developments in Europe. The ambassadors include Michael Comay from London, Asher Ben-Natan from Paris and Emil Najer from Rome.

The general policy line laid down to them is that if a French initiative does materialize, Israel will seek to convince the other Europeans that only harm can come from letting Sadat fall under another delusion that salvation from the outside will regain him his lost territories without direct peace negotiations with Israel. Israel believes that with the Russians out of Egypt, the chances of a political settlement have increased but would be prejudiced by a French plan for Four Power pressure which in effect means an imposed settlement.

Sen. Richard S. Schweiker (R.Pa.) said today that he would support any effort by the US government to protest the Soviet Union’s excessive visa fees. He referred to the matter in a letter to Secretary of State William P. Rogers in which he described the visa fees as “an absolute mockery” of the rights of a citizen of a country to emigrate.

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