New French P.m. is Son of Jewish Family That Converted, but His Wife and Children Are Jewish

Laurent Fabius, the new Prime Minister of France, is the son of an old French Jewish family that converted to Catholicism after World War II. His wife, the former Francoise Castro, is Jewish and Jewish community sources said today that their children “are Jewish according to any halachic interpretation.”

Fabius, who was Minister of Industry in the Cabinet of Premier Pierre Mauroy, was named Prime Minister by President Francois Mitterrand yesterday following Mauroy’s resignation. At 37, he is the youngest French Prime Minister in over a century.

Fabius has never shown interest in Judaism. But he told a French-Jewish weekly recently, “I am a friend of Israel and I think everything should be done to enable Israel to live as an independent state and in peace.” He also pledged to do “everything I can” to strengthen Franco-Israeli cooperation in science.

VISITED ISRAEL ON SEVERAL OCCASIONS

He has visited Israel on several occasions, both privately and as a government minister. In the latter capacity this year, he conferred with Israel’s Minister of Science, Yuval Neeman, on the possibility of joint ventures in the scientific field. Israeli diplomats here said Fabius showed good will throughout those negotiations and personally urged his advisors to reach an agreement with Israel on scientific co-operation.

On his private trips to Israel, Fabius spent time at a kibbutz. His pro-Israel sentiments are not likely to effect any changes in French Middle East policy. Under the French Constitution, foreign policy is the exclusive preserve of the President. Official sources here said today that French policy in the Middle East will continue to follow the main lines laid down by President Mitterrand.

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