PARIS (Nov. 24)
France welcomed yesterday the Sadat-Begin meeting in Jerusalem and promised to “back all efforts of those who strive to turn hopes into reality.” The French statement, made by President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, was half-hearted in tone and followed a general public show of displeasure with Premier Raymond Barre’s own icy statements a few days ago and France’s veto last week of a European Economic Community (EEC) message of congratulations to President Anwar Sadat.
For once, the general press and a multitude of personalities and bodies joined Jewish organizations in voicing disappointment with the French government’s stand. French officials tried to explain that France’s “abstention” was motivated for the “good of the cause”–not making it appear as if the West is backing Sadat and maintaining a discreet silence. Practically no one in France is convinced by these arguments.
On Tuesday, France joined the other eight EEC member states in a joint communique welcoming Sadat’s initiative and wishing it lucky while yesterday, the Elysee Palace made known Giscard’s own statement at the Cabinet meeting. He was quoted as having said that the summit meet- ing “showed that the barriers of hostility and suspicion can be removed.” He added: “France will back the efforts of all those who strive to turn these hopes (for a Middle East peace) into reality.”