Paris (May. 21)
Pierre Mauroy, a 53-year-old veteran Socialist leader and warm friend of Israel, was appointed today France’s new Prime Minister. He was named minutes after Francois Mitterrand was inaugurated as France’s 21st President, the sixth since the country’s liberation from Nazi occupation.
Mauroy, who also serves as Mayor of Lille, has visited Israel on several occasions and is described by people who know him well as “emotionally deeply concerned with Israel’s well being.” This, does not prevent him from occasionally criticising certain aspects of Israeli policy.
He is particularly outspoken on what he terms “Palestinian rights” and on the need for “a global peace” in the Middle East. He publicly voiced these sentiments most recently during the visit by Israel’s Ambassador to France, Meir Rosenne to Lille last year.
The head of that city’s Jewish community, Melamed Beer, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Mauroy “has invariably tried to help whenever we asked for his assistance.” Beer said that Mauroy raised the issue of imprisoned Soviet Jewish activists with Soviet President Leonid Brezhnev during his visit to the Soviet Union in 1973. As a result, two of the people on whose behalf he interceded were later released.
SPENDS TIME WITH WIESEL, MILLER
Another man described as a warm friend of Israel, Pierre Beregovoy, was appointed Elysee Palace Chief of Staff and Mitterrand’s closest personal adviser. Beregovoy also visited Israel on several occasions and has often tried to intercede on behalf of imprisoned Soviet Jews.
The new President pledged himself today, as guns boomed and flags were raised throughout the country, to govern with “justice and freedom.” During a luncheon offered to his “personal friends, he spent several minutes with author Elie Wiesel. Later, Wiesel told the JTA, “I am convinced that he is a real friend of the Jewish people.” American Jewish playwright Arthur Miller also attended the ceremonies as the new President’s guest. Chief Rabbi Rene Sirat was present during the official ceremonies as representative of France’s 700,000 Jews.
CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON
Mitterrand was inaugurated today in an atmosphere of high optimism.Millions of Frenchmen watched the ceremonies on television; hundreds of thousands walked with him through the Latin Quarter.
But in spite of the elation, small clouds are already gathering at the horizon. Claude Cheysson, a 61-year-old diplomat and Common Market Commissioner, slated to become France’s next Foreign Minister, said today that the new administration “will respect and fulfill all its obligations, including signed arms contracts.”
The Brussels-based diplomat, who attended the inauguration ceremonies, refused to specify whether these include the Franco-Iraqi nuclear deal. He stressed that all “all signed contracts will be fulfilled.” Cheysson, whose appointment is expected to be announced tomorrow, is a strong believer in the Europe-Arab dialogue and in the need to help Third World countries.