Spain is Preparing to Send an Ambassador to Israel

A prominent Spanish Socialist politician, Enrique Mugica-Herzog, is preparing himself for the task of becoming his country’s first Ambassador to Israel, according to well informed sources in Madrid. The sources said that Spain is taking seriously warnings by West European nations that failure to establish diplomatic relations with Israel could add to Spain’s difficulties in joining the European Economic Community (EEC) at the beginning of 1985.

Madrid apparently wants to appoint a “political” Ambassador rather than a professional diplomat to what is considered to be an extremely sensitive task of representing Spanish interests in Israel some time in the near future.

While the Spanish Foreign Ministry officially maintains that no new steps have been taken to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, it is, at the same time, giving the impression that the time is ripe for new initiatives. This has been made clear in recent reports by Spanish journalists who are close to the Foreign Ministry, such as Pilar Cernuda.

‘MORE THAN JUST SPECULATIONS’

Diplomats in Spain, in telephone interviews, confirmed that the reports by Cernuda and other journalists have been “more than just speculations.” The diplomats pointed to what they termed “a rapid development of contacts between Spain and Israel in recent months.”They added that Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez of Spain and Premier Shimon Peres of Israel are known to have established very good contacts.

The diplomats also noted that Spain and Israel have developed a close cooperation in combatting terrorism. They said that Spanish security experts regularly visit Israel to inform themselves on internal security-related matters but they declined to confirm reports in Madrid that Israeli security experts stay in Spain on a permanent basis.

Several members of the present Spanish Cabinet visited Israel before they became ministers. They were Gonzaler, Vice Prime Minister Alfonso Gurerra, Interior Minister Jose Barrionuevo, Health Minister Emest Lluch, Transportation and Tourism Minister Enrique Baron, and Minister-Without-Portfolio Javier Moscose. Other leading figures of both the coalition and the opposition have also visited Israel and are on record as sympathetic to the Jewish State.

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