PARIS (Jan. 31)
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan of Israel is returning home tomorrow after a three day visit to France during which he met President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, Prime Minister Raymond Barre and Foreign Minister an Francois-Poncet. It was the first official in France by a member of Menachem Begin’s Cabinet and has permitted the two countries to exchange views on the Middle East and the current peace process.
France’s and Israel’s positions have became cleaner to each other but remain as widely divergent as ever before on practically all main issues. Even on a relatively minor issue, but highly symbolic, that of Begin’s visit to France, no solution is in sight and the visit is no nearer than its was before Dayan’s arrival.
Giscard, during his 90-minute meeting yesterday with Dayan, raised the issue of Begin’s visit, saying he hoped the Israeli leader will avail himself of this opportunity. But the problems linked to the visit have not even been broached. Giscard and Dayan also exchanged views on a solution to the Middle East conflict, with the French President stressing the need for a global settlement and warning Israel that, in his eyes, a separate Egyptian-Israeli peace would be neither lasting not just.
AREAS OF DISAGREEMENT
French opposition to the peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt is well known. According to reliable diplomatic sources, Giscard twice in recent months advised President Anwar Sadat of Egypt not to sign the Camp David accords or the tentative agreements reached on the ministerial level during the Blair House talks in Washington in November, at least not in their original form. These sources said Giscard’s advice may have contributed to Sadat’s decision to make new demands on Israel, leading to the present stalemate.
In his contacts with other Arab leaders, such as King Hussein of Jordan, the French President reportedly went out of his way to criticize the Camp David agreements and the current peace process. He is said to have congratulated Hussein for adopting a “wait-and-see” attitude and assured him that “there is always time for you to join (the talks) later.” Jordanian diplomats have said that France’s attitude during Hussein’s recent trip to Western Europe was “the friendliest and most understanding.”
The French attitude stems from Giscard’s belief that only a “global peace” can bring about a lasting settlement. The French totally disagree with Israel’s assertion that an Egyptian-Israeli settlement can pave the way for a larger, more comprehensive agreement. According to the French, a separate agreement between Israel and Egypt would set back the prospects for a general peace in the Middle East and further complicate the problem.
On the Palestinian issue, the French government backs fully the principle of Palestinian participation in any peace process. It does not believe in the West Bank autonomy plan contained in the Camp David frameworks. On the contrary, it views that plan as a means to avoid dealing with what France considers the basic issue.” The position was made clear by the French government to all the Arab governments, to its West European partners and to President Carter during the recent summit meeting in Guadeloupe.
Last month, France was the only member of the European Economic Community (EEC) that did not vote against a vehemently anti-Israel pro-Palestinian resolution presented in the United Nations by Libya and Iraq. Despite the plea from the others eight EEC partners to vote with them against the resolution, France decided to obtain. The intention apparently was to show the Arab states that France remains “neutral” in their conflict with Israel and is not influenced by the Comp David agreements.
In spite of the divergence of official views between the two countries, over 1500 French political personalities, ministers, senators, deputies and high officials attended a reception given by Dayan at the Israel Embassy last night.