France Says Israel’s ‘unilateral’ and ‘illegal’ Decisions Are New Impediments to Mideast Peace

France charged today that “the unilateral and illegal decisions of the State of Israel, whether in regard to the West Bank or more recently, Jerusalem, are new impediments to the search for a peaceful settlement” in the Middle East.

French Foreign Minister Jean Francois-Poncet, addressing the General Assembly in the course of its general debate, referred only briefly to the Middle East conflict in a speech that outlined his country’s major foreign policy principles. But his remarks on the Middle East were conspicuous for singling out Israel’s actions as an obstacle to further progress toward a settlement in the area.

In what was obviously another thrust at Israel, though he did not mention it by name, Poncet charged that “attacks on Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and on the mission and authority of the United Nations force in that country” are a further danger to peace in the area. He said, “The friendship that links France to Lebanon and my country’s role in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) makes this action all the more abhorrent to France.”

Poncet, whose country is a member of the European Economic Community (EEC), did not elaborate on the Middle East question. The French position was spelled out yesterday by Foreign Minister Gaston Thorn of Luxembourg who spoke for all nine member states of the EEC.

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