PARIS (Dec. 25)
French Foreign Minister Michel Jobert has let it be known to the National Assembly and other governmental circles that he would like to visit Israel in early 1974. the French newspaper. “Le Monde.” reports here. If Jobert’s visit to Israel takes place, it will be the first time a French minister will make an official visit to Israel since the founding of the Fifth Republic. Even during the Fourth Republic, when Franco-Israeli relations were excellent, no such official visit was made.
Conversely, neither has Paris received officially any Israeli government representative. The apparent obstacle to these visits is France’s refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In contrast. official visits between France and the Arab nations are consistent and-numerous
Jobert’s projected trip, it is said, would not be limited to Israel. In fact, Last Oct., at the National Assembly he spoke of his desire to make a tour of the Middle East “to try to convince Israel and the Arab nations to get along.” Only the Foreign Minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia at the end of Jan. has been announced officially by the Quai d’Orsay. the French State Department.
Political observers here believe that Jobert has dropped the hint of a Middle East visit including Israel purposely as a government “feeler” to see what kind of reception the idea provokes both in France and in Israel. These observers see the move as a French attempt to draw diplomatic advantages from the Geneva conference if and when the results of this conference look promising.