PARIS (May. 18)
Pierre Mendes-France has warned Israel that it must come up with a “credible” peace initiative before the end of this year or face an imposed solution after the American Presidential elections which could possibly amount to a “new Munich.”
The former French Premier, who returned last week from a visit to Israel where he conferred with its leaders, stressed, in an interview published yesterday in Nouvelle Observateur, that no solution to the Middle East conflict can be found unless “the Palestinians have the same right as the Israelis to be independent, to have a country and to decide on what concerns them without any foreign intervention.”
Mendes-France, one of the three Jews who have served as the Prime Minister of France, predicted that. “As soon as the Lebanese crisis is settled and the American elections are ever, Israel will have to face a terrible end of term. This is why I hope with all my strength that Israel will take the initiative to avoid a new Munich. An Israeli offer is far preferable to an imposed solution even if both are similar” (in their terms), he said.
According to the French statesman, “Israel must create a new situation” and “to achieve this, it must make a significant gesture” such as “telling the Palestinians that there are no obstacles to their freedom and their rights.”
REGARDED AS AN 11TH HOUR APPEAL
Mendes-France criticized both sides in the Middle East conflict–the Arabs for proclaiming their desire to destroy Israel and Israel for establishing settlements in Arab territory. “Continuing to propose nothing clear and credible, nothing which can give hope that a solution is possible, is handing over the situation to extremists, fanatics and irresponsible people who content themselves with recalling yesterday’s sufferings and martyrdom,” he warned.
The former Premier, who negotiated France’s withdrawal from Indo-China in 1955, observed that “There is no example of a people fighting for its independence and failing to win it” during the past generation. He referred to Indo-China, Algeria, Madagascar and Angola. He warned that the next American Administration, no matter who wins the election, will “not bother with subtleties” and will impose a Middle East solution, probably with the Soviet Union’s help.
Sources close to Nouvelle Observateur, a liberal weekly, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Mendes-France regarded his interview as an 11th hour appeal to Israel and world Jewish opinion by a person whose pro-Israel sentiments are beyond question.