PARIS (Nov. 3)
Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson said in an interview here today that Franco-Israeli political relations would revert “to normal” as soon as all Israeli troops evacuate Lebanon. In an interview with the French Jewish weekly, Tribune Juive, Cheysson said that Franco-Israeli cultural, technical and economic relations “have remained unchanged,” but said that on the political level serious differences separate the two countries.
The Minister clearly implied that there will be no exchange of ministerial visits as long as Israeli troops remain in Lebanon though he said “the dialogue is open” after he had met on several occasions with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamiriat the United Nations in New York.
In the first major governmental explanation of France’s policy in the Middle East since the start of the “Peace for Galilee” operation last June, Cheysson said “there can be no real negotiations (in the Middle East) as long as the Israeli government and the Knesset fail to accept the Palestinian, people’s right to self-determination and the need to evacuate the occupied territories.”
Cheysson said that France fully backs the peace plan proposed by President Reagan “although at one point we go further than the American” plan. He added; “If there is one subject in the world in which we blindly follow the American lead it is on the evacuation of foreign troops from Lebanon. But, we harbor no illusions the responsibility for the departure of the foreign forces is obviously not Europe’s nor France’s “but, stressed the minister, that of the United States.
The minister said that the conditions seem ripe for a negotiated peace in the Middle East. He said “there are now two possible venues (the Reagan proposal and the conclusions of the Fez summit) for negotiations.”
Cheysson made it clear that France continues to respect its former pledges to Israel and considers that the first step towards a generalized negotiation must be a clear Palestinian recognition of Israel.