STRASBOURG, France (Mar. 9)
The Parliament of Europe overwhelmingly rejected here Wednesday ratification of three economic agreements Israel signed last year with the 12-nation European Community.
Many of the deputies said afterward that their negative votes were cast as “a sanction” against Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and what they considered Israel’s refusal to start negotiating peace agreements with the Arabs.
The three protocols, negotiated over the last two years by Israel and the European Common Market Commission, needed 260 votes for ratification. The first of them, dealing with Israel’s future trade relations with the E.C. and Israeli agricultural and industrial exports, was defeated by a vote of 207-149 with 20 abstentions.
The second protocol, providing E.C. financial aid — including a first installment of some $90 million — was rejected by a vote of 205-143 with 22 abstentions.
The third protocol actually consisted of Israeli concessions to Spain and Portugal upon their admission to the E.C. in 1986. It won a majority of the votes cast — 255 to 112 — only five short of the number needed for ratification. The Spanish and Portuguese deputies complained they were held “guilty by association with Israel.”
Apart from the economic damage Israel will suffer in its trade relations with the E.C., rejection of the protocols was a blow to Israel’s prestige and an indication of how far its good standing has fallen since unrest began in the administered territories three months ago.
The Parliament of Europe, the E.C.’s legislative body, traditionally is one of the most pro-Israel international assemblies. It has regularly supported Israeli and Jewish interests and has taken a strong stand in favor of oppressed Jewish minorities in the Soviet Union and Arab countries. Though without political power, it carries heavy moral weight.
Four resolutions condemning Israeli policies in the administered territories and “refusal to start peace negotiations” are on the agenda for discussion Thursday. Several parliamentary groups, including the French Liberals and Conservatives, are trying to postpone a vote on the resolutions or soften their language.