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Behind the Headlines French President Determined to Resume Franco-israel Dialogue

Political circles in Paris believe that France’s new President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing will try to improve at the earliest Franco-Israeli relations in form if not in essence. Circles close to the new president say that he is determined to resume at the earliest France’s dialogue with Israel, cut off by Paris after the Six-Day War. and conduct exchanges in a friendly spirit in spite of the basic political differences which separate the two countries,

Giscard d’Estaing was elected France’s 20th President after narrowly defeating the candidate of the united left. Socialist Francois Mitterand. Though a member of the Centrist Independent Republican Party. Giscard d’Estaing won with the support of the Gaullist bloc and various nationalistic groups. Sources close to the new president told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he is determined to improve the spirit of Franco-Israeli relations and resume “a friendly and courteous dialogue” between the two countries.

These sources say that as a first step, Giscard d’Estaing’s government will renew the invitation extended to Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban to pay an official visit to France. The new French Foreign Minister will also visit Israel in the near future. Giscard d’Estaing also intends to increase cultural, diplomatic and economic exchanges with Israel. Furthermore, these sources say that in the coming months more exchange visits between French and Israeli ministers are likely.

No French minister has ever visited Israel, even in the heyday of the Fourth Republic and the Sinai campaign. Eban was invited to Paris last autumn, but his visit had to be postponed because of the Yom Kippur War and then cancelled because of President Pompidou’s death and the ensuing French elections, The new government, according to these sources, plans to renew the invitation as one of its first diplomatic acts.

NOT AT EXPENSE OF FRANCE’S ARAB POLICY

These sources stress, however, that the improvement in Franco-Israeli ties will not be at the expense of France’s Arab policy. The new president, who has served as Minister of Finance for the last 11 years, has actively encouraged Franco-Arab economic exchanges and political cooperation and is reportedly convinced that this policy has “paid off.” He believes, however, that in spite of Franco-Israeli differences, the political climate between the two countries can be improved.

Two of Giscard d’Estaing’s closest advisers, Michel Poniatovsky, who conducted his electoral campaign, and Deauville Mayor, Michel d’Ornano who serves as Secretary General of his political party, the Independent Republicans, have close ties with both the Jewish community and Israeli circles here. Two Paris districts with large Jewish concentrations, the 1st and the 16th, gave a majority to the Conservative candidate.

Political observers believe that the Giscard d’Estaing pro-Atlantic attitude together with his desire to improve relations with the United States and Europe will also positively affect Franco Israeli ties. The new president, who intends to conduct his own foreign policy, has clearly promised to draw France closer to the Atlantic alliance and to consult with her European and Atlantic partners in matters of foreign policy.

INTEND TO HONOR PROMISES

Giscard d’Estaing, a former student at France’s illustrious Ecole Poly technique and the National School of Public Administration, is known as a keen believer in efficiency and courtesy. During the electoral campaign he sent his mother and wife on his behalf to a reception given by the France-Israeli Friendship Society in honor of Israel’s independence day.

In his public statements, he maintained a relatively guarded and discreet attitude. Thus, in a declaration to the JTA last week he stressed France’s friendship with the Arab states but underlined that all countries in the area “are entitled to a free and secure existence.” He also came out in favor of direct negotiations between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Circles close to the new president say that his relative political discretion during the electoral campaign shows that “he made few promises on this issue but intends to honor them all.”

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