ROME (Feb. 12)
Deputy Prime Minister Alfonso Guerra of Spain has backed off sharply from recent statements by Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales who indicated at a meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on January 31 that Spain plans soon to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
“At the present moment, setting up relations with Israel would not help to improve the situation in the Middle East,” Guerra said after being prodded on the subject in an interview published in the Rome daily II Messaggero last Friday.
Guerra was asked to comment on the fact that Spain, soon to join the European Economic Community (EEC) is the only Western nation which does not recognize Israel. “Our declared readiness for this gesture is in line with our thesis favoring the right of Israel to live within guaranteed borders, and also the right of the Palestinians, today dispersed, to live in a homeland,” Guerra told II Messaggero.
“When these reciprocal conditions have been met, we will proceed,” he said. “At present, our relations with Israel are negatively conditioned by a situation which for us is incomprehensible: the expansionism of its (Israel’s) government, the military occupation of part of Lebanon and a co-responsibility in massacres such as those of Sabra and Shatila,” Spain’s No. 2 leader added.
“Recognition could in any case not be given before the withdrawal of the Israelis from Lebanon,” he said. Guerra is in Rome for the presentation of awards by the Spanish government to italian political, literary, economic and film personalities. He is meeting with government authorities to discuss Italy ‘s support of Spain’s entry into the Common Market.