WASHINGTON (Jun. 6)
The White House said today that it was “somewhat disappointed” that France has failed to support the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, following French Foreign Minister Jean-Francois Poncet’s talks with President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance this week.
Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell referred to Poncet’s refusal to endorse the treaty The French diplomat said at a press conference here yesterday that France feared the accord might turn out to be a separate peace without leading to a solution of the Palestinian problem “We have made it clear that we are somewhat disappointed that the French have been unable to be more supportive thus for in the peace process that is now under way,” Powell told reporters.
He said “We made it clear that failure by our friends to support the process can tend to strengthen the radicals and to force moderates to vacate the middle ground, particularly in the absence of any workable alternatives to the negotiations that are now taking place. And we simply hope that at the very least, the French and others will demonstrate a willingness to want to see how the next round of negotiations evolves before distancing themselves from our efforts,” Powell said.
Earlier, in response to a question by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Powell described the assassination of the Gaza religious leader Sheikh Hashem Al Huzander, who supported the Egyptian peace initiative, as “counter-productive” toward helping the Palestinian people. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group within the Palestine Liberation Organization, claimed credit for the murder. The JTA asked how the President felt about the PLO’s continued attempts to gain political control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip by assassination and intimidation.
Powell replied; “I think our position of abhorrence of violence and terrorism has been made very clear. I would simply reiterate what the President has said on several occasions that this sort of behavior does a disservice to the Palestinian people and is counter productive to efforts to improve their lot and insure their rights.
Both Powell and State Department spokesman Hodding Carter expressed disapproval yesterday of the Israeli Cabinet’s decision to establish a new Jewish settlement adjacent to Nablus, the largest Arab town on the West Bank. Powell said “We consider the settlement to be illegal and on impediment to peace.”