French Public Opinion Shifts

French public opinion, strongly anti-Palestinian immediately after the hijacking of an Air France plane to Uganda, is now shifting in favor of the Palestinians in the wake of reports from Lebanon that Christian troops have prevented the International Red Cross from moving wounded out of the repeatedly shelled Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut.

The French press as well as many political personalities are also increasingly accusing the Christian rightists in Lebanon of imposing “a cruel and inhuman campaign” against the Palestinians in the Tel Al Zaater refugee camp. The French media, including the government-controlled television, is reporting daily on the sufferings in the camp.

This was seen as one reason for the government’s strong denial of a charge by the Communist press yesterday that France is supplying arms to the Lebanese Christians. French officials affirmed that France has not delivered any arms to Lebanon for the past year and stopped delivering helicopters in 1972. The government is apparently making every effort to disclaim any responsibility for the continued shelling of the Palestinian camp.

APPEALS MADE TO WORLD PUBLIC OPINION

As a result of news reports and television films depicting the bombardments by Lebanese Christians of the Tel Al Zaater camp and the long vain efforts by the International Red Cross to evacuate the wounded there, leading French personalities have issued appeals to world public opinion.

Socialist leader Francois Mitterand has appealed to the Red Cross, the Pope and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim on behalf of the Palestinians. Robert Pontillon, the head of the French Socialist Party’s department for international affairs, a friend of Israel, has urged Premier Jacques Chirac to intervene on behalf of the besieged Palestinians. Others issuing appeals include former Gaullist Premier Michel Debre and the centrist parties.

A French medical team arrived in Beirut Tuesday to evaluate health needs as the French government is apparently preparing to dispatch a medical mission to Lebanon to care for the countless wounded and maimed.

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