PARIS (Oct. 17)
French Foreign Minister Michel Jobert told the French National Assembly today that France will continue to send planes to Libya. The Minister said that the government intends to continue its policy of applying its self-imposed embargo only to those countries directly involved in the Middle East fighting. According to France these countries are Israel, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.
Jobert said that Israel has failed to supply any proof that Libyan Mirages are participating in the fighting. He said that he has asked Egypt and Libya for information and that “the governments of these two countries have declared without the slightest reservation that Libyan planes are not participating in the fighting and are not stationed on Egyptian territory.” The Minister said that France considers their answer as “a state document” and should this be proven false “it will draw the necessary consequences.”
The Minister told the full House that in his view “Israel is not threatened in its very existence.” He said that “the image of Israel as a small, brave people fighting for its existence has been marred in the eyes of the world.” He blamed Israel’s refusal to participate in any of the diplomatic projects put forth since 1967-such as the Jarring mission or the Rogers plan-for this situation.
Jobert had to face an angry House in which party lines between government and opposition were forgotten as speaker after speaker, with the exception of the Communists, rapped the government for its “pro-Arab policy.” Most of the speakers also called upon the government to impose at the earliest an embargo which would apply to all the Arab countries.
During his presentation of the government position, Jobert was interrupted by the House with Deputies from the government coalition joining the opposition in opposing the government line. The debate is due to continue during the night session, but observers here believe that unless Israel manages to produce clear-cut concrete evidence, the French government seems determined to continue its current policy.