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Spanish Official Says Diplomatic Ties with Israel Are Likely in Near Future

The First Minister of the Spanish Embassy, Juan Jose Arboli, told an American Jewish Committee delegation that Spain’s policies regarding establishment of diplomatic relations with Israel “are in a good place” and that “movement in that direction should occur in the very near future.”

Arboli made that statement in a meeting held in the Spanish Embassy last week with an AJC delegation consisting of Dr. David Gordis, Leo Nevas, Marc Tanenbaum, and Hyman Bookbinder.

The Spanish Minister also told the AJC group that Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez has informed a number of Arab countries recently of his intention to establish diplomatic ties with Israel and that it was inappropriate for Arab governments to try to block that from happening. “We are an independent sovereign nation,” Arboli said, “and we cannot let other governments determine our foreign policy.”

Spain recently negotiated an agreement for entering the European Economic Community with Portugal. One of the terms of entering the EEC was an understanding that Spain would establish diplomatic ties with Israel. Two weeks ago the Gonzalez government reshuffled major Cabinet posts, including the designation of a new Foreign Minister.

CITES EXISTENCE OF WARM PERSONAL TIES

Arboli also told the AJC representatives that “warm personal ties exist between Mr. Gonzalez and Israel’s Prime Minister, Shimon Peres” and that “there is widespread warm feeling among the Spanish people towards Israel and the Jewish people.”

In response to a proposal from Tanenbaum, AJC’s international relations director, Arboli said his country would be eager to cooperate with the AJC in arranging civic and cultural exchanges in the near future. The AJC’s international relations department carries on such exchange programs with West Germany, France, Italy, and several Latin American governments and civic and religious groups in those countries.

Last February, an AJC delegation of lay leaders carried out a mission to Spain, where they met with government, political, civic, and religious leaders.

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