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Egypt Favors Associating West Bank and Gaza Strip to Jordan

Egypt come out today in favor of an association between Jordan and a future Palestinian entity. Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Boutros Ghali said in Paris today that “Egypt fully supports the idea of associating the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to the Jordanian kingdom.”

The Egyptian declaration, which confirms earlier support in favor of President Reagan’s Mideast peace plan, took added significance in view of PLO leader Yasir Arafat’s recent meeting with King Hussein of Jordan. Diplomatic sources said at the time that Arafat had given some sort of agreement to Hussein’s offer to open negotiations on this subject with the United States.

Arafat, who yesterday conferred for over two hours with French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, also told the French that he is prepared to be “far more flexible” in the future and said his organization would henceforth play “the political card.”

CHEYSSON-ARAFAT MEETING CRITICIZED

The Cheysson-Arafat meeting has come under considerable criticism in France, where a number of Jewish organizations protested what they called “awarding a prize to the terrorists.” A storm of protests also greeted Cheysson’s comment in which he said that he “deplores that Israel shows no sign of looking for a political solution” to the Middle East crisis.

After the two-hour meeting, Cheysson told reporters in Tunis: “The PLO now seeks a political solution but all concerned parties must do the same. The strongest of these, Israel, shows no sign as yet of seeking such a way.” The Minister said that should this situation continue “there is a risk that certain (Palestinian) elements, disappointed and frustrated might once again revert to force and violence.”

The Franco-Israeli Alliance issued a communique today describing as “ignominious” Cheysson’s declaration as tantamount to “having Israel shoulder the responsibility for future terrorist attacks.” The Alliance also “wondered who is conducting French foreign policy: the President or his Foreign Minister.”

The pro-Israeli organization was obviously referring to the contradiction in the generally pro-Israeli stand taken by President Mitterrand and the militant pro-Palestinian tone adopted by Cheysson. French sources said that Cheysson turned down Arafat’s request for an official invitation to France.

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