Shamir Gets Icy French Welcome
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Shamir Gets Icy French Welcome

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Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir arrived here today for a three-day visit, the first by an Israeli leader abroad since the invasion of Lebanon. Shamir, given an icy welcome by the French Administration, is due to meet Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson tomorrow for a brief lunch and working session.

Several left-wing Jewish organizations and a number of internationally prominent Jewish intellectuals have called for a silent demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy tomorrow evening to protest Israel’s policy in Lebanon. Among them are physicist Laurent Schwartz, philosopher Vladimir Yankelewicz, professor of medicine Jean Minkovski and jurist Michel Rappaport.

It is the first known time that prominent members of the French Jewish community have dissossociated themselves from a major policy decision taken by an Israeli government.

Several Arab leaders had asked President Francois Mitterrand to cancel the Israeli Minister’s visit. The President refused to yield to this pressure but has reportedly instructed his government to avoid any unnecessary contacts with Shamir. The only French Minister besides Cheysson scheduled to meet with Shamir is interior Minister Gaston Deferre, an old friend of Israel.

Senate President Alain Poher, who is giving a dinner in Shamir’s honor, tomorrow, belongs to the opposition, and contrary to the American political scene plays a relatively minor role in France.


For the last 24 hours the French press, radio and television have been sharply critical of Israel. Some commentators claim that Israel is preparing “a massacre” of Palestinians in the occupied Lebanese territories.

Shamir said on arrival today that he hopes to heal the existing rift between France and Israel during his three-day stsy. But both Mitterrand and Premier Pierre Mouroy have refused to meet with him.

Shamir arrived only hours after the Foreign Ministry expressed its “deep concern” over the situation in Lebanon and announced that Cheysson has been conferring, presumably by radio, with Palestinian leaders, including the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s political department, Farouk Kaddumi. France would have preferred it if Shamir had postponed his trip which the French insist is a “working visit” and not an “official” stay, although Shamir was formally invited to France by Cheysson during Mitterrand’s trip to Israel last March.

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