BONN (Jun. 19)
The World Jewish Congress has been assured by Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher that the European Economic Community (EEC) will not participate in the United Nations sponsored conference on Palestine, now scheduled to be held in Geneva August 16-27.
Genscher, currently chairman of the EEC Council of Ministers, discussed the matter at a luncheon meeting here with a delegation of the WJC’s European branch. It was raised in the context of a general discussion of Middle East issues, on the eve of the summit meeting of the heads of the 10 EEC member states in Stuttgart.
The WJC delegation urged European solidarity in line with previous commitments not to participate in the Palestine conference. Genscher, speaking in his capacity as EEC chairman, said the European Community as such would not be represented. He was confident that his position would influence the policies of the other members, each of which is responsible for deciding whether or not it will attend.
This seemed to allay fears that France might attend the conference in Geneva as the “price” for changing its venue from Paris, the site originally selected. In addition to France, Austria has refused to act as host country and the Swiss government has raised strenuous objections to the selection of Geneva, mainly on grounds that it cannot provide adequate security measures.
COMMON WESTERN POLICY
A WJC spokesman said that particular emphasis was given at the meeting with Genscher to prospects for peace in the Middle East following the Israel-Lebanon withdrawal agreement signed last month. The spokesman said the WJC delegation was assured that the European Community would not “diverge from the common policy of the West” which supports the agreement. The continuity of EEC policy on the Middle East was also discussed in light of the fact that the Foreign Minister of Greece, whose government is friendly to the Palestinian cause, will assume the rotating chairmanship of the EEC Council of Ministers next month.
The WJC spokesman noted that Genscher’s office had issued a statement at the conclusion of their meeting, thereby emphasizing its formal character and placing it on record as a diplomatic event. The WJC delegation was headed by Werner Nachmann, president of the board of the Central Council of Jews in Germany.
B’NAI B’RITH URGES WITHHOLDING SUPPORT
(In Washington meanwhile, the B’nai B’rith International called on “all governments desiring peace” to withhold political and financial support from the proposed Palestine conference in Geneva. Philip Lax, chairman of the International Council of B’nai B’rith, said the UN’s decision to go ahead with the conference “in the face of widespread international opposition” showed “how out of step” the UN is with world opinion on the way to promote peace. Lax noted that non-governmental organizations with observer status at the UN which do not sympathize with the Palestine Liberation Organization have been excluded from the conference. That, he said, was “a tell-tale sign” that the organizers of the conference “have no interest in objectivity to furthering the cause of peace.”)