PARIS (Jul. 2)
Ovadia Soffer, Israeli Ambassador to France, has issued an appeal to “establish non-violence between Israel and the Arabs” and called for “an immediate freeze of military operations and violence” both in the Middle East and world terrorism.
In an exclusive statement to the French newspaper France-Soir, Baghdad-born Soffer, referring to himself as a “son of the region,” said he is “launching an appeal to all Arab governments that there be an immediate freeze of military operations and violence… possible given that these governments are in power of controlling the terrorist organizations and of thus contributing to regional and international security.”
Soffer also strongly supports the involvement of the European Community in a search for a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict. He asserted that the EEC “should be empowered to take, under its auspices, the investiture of such a freeze in order to promote negotiations between Israel and its neighbors.”
Israeli Deputy Premier Yitzhak Shamir, while in Paris last month, discussed with French Premier Jacques Chirac the possibilities of cooperation between the two countries to stem terrorist activities. Shamir inaugurated the Israel-Common Market joint Chamber of Commerce, with the spokesmen of both countries vowing to fight terrorism.
ISSUES MARSHALL PLAN APPEAL
Soffer also offered “another appeal which will go in the direction of the Marshall Plan suggested by my Prime Minister, Shimon Peres.” Peres first brought the suggestion of a new kind of Marshall Plan to London January 22 when he addressed the Royal Institute of International Affairs there.
At the time, Peres proposed that the United States, Europe and some Middle East nations join in such a project to emulate that set forth by U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall in the wake of World War II, which provided for the reconstruction of the economic and physical infrastructures of the countries devastated by the war.
In April, President Reagan promised to study the proposal for a new Marshall Plan-like development for the Middle East “as the way to foster a better climate for peace” in the region. The plan was also on the agenda at the Tokyo Economic Summit Conference in May.
CITES ECONOMIC STATUS OF ARAB STATES
Soffer, in his detailed list of suggestions given to French journalist Robert Soule, cited the serious financial situation of the Arab countries resulting from the drop in oil prices, emphasizing that the economic straits have “repercussions in the entirety of the Third World which suffers from famine and sickness.
“I would like to make known to the Arab countries that if they should accept our proposal of peace, there is a possibility–and we have the ability to do it–to go forward hand in hand in order to assure economic prosperity in the region.”
OFFER TO OUR ARAB NEIGHBORS
Soffer also included the problem of the water shortage common to so many countries in the region, saying that the Israelis, as experts in the field of irrigation, “can, in fighting against this scarcity, ameliorate the production of food.” He offered “to place at the disposition of our Arab neighbors, if they choose peace,” Israeli know-how in both technical and medical spheres.
Soffer included in his statement reference to the involvement of the superpowers. “We are, we and others, people exploited by rivalries and ambitions of the superpowers. An Israeli-Arab peace could liberate our people of this international competition. But beyond the solution brought to our own conflict, it could serve as a model of independence for other countries of the Third World.”