TEL AVIV (Oct. 30)
Demonstrators picketed the French Embassy here tonight protesting the visit of Foreign Minister Jean Sauvagnargues only hours before he was due to arrive. The protestors, mainly members of the Herut youth, demanded that the French diplomat be declared persona non grata in Israel because of his recent meeting in Beirut with Palestine Liberation Organization chieftain Yasir Arafat. “A man who sits with the arch terrorist Arafat cannot come to Israel and get the red carpet treatment.” one of the demonstrators told newsmen.
The demonstration was noisy but without incident The group carried placards likening French support for the PLO to the Vichy regime’s collaboration with the Nazis and chanted “Sauvagnargues go home.” Embassy officials later received a delegation of protestors. They explained that when the Foreign Minister greeted Arafat as “Le President” he used the French word in Its meaning of chairman.
CHAGRIN WILL BE EXPRESSED
While Sauvagnargues will get a cordial official welcome when he arrives at Ben Gurion Airport tonight for a three-day official visit, Israeli officials are expected to make clear their chagrin over French Middle East policy, especially its support for the PLO. The position Sauvagnargues is likely to take was indicated in an interview with the French Foreign Minister published this afternoon in the newspaper Yediot Acharonot.
He stated that “Israel’s right to exist within the 1967 borders is a basic principle” of French policy. He also said that his meeting with Arafat must not be construed as condoning terrorist methods but as an expression of the French government’s firm belief that there can be no lasting peace in the Middle East without a solution of the Palestinian problem.
Sauvagnargues was to be greeted at the airport by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon. Well placed sources said tonight that strained relations between France and Israel would not alter Allon’s plans to return the French diplomat’s visit. He is expected to go to Paris early next year.