MADRID (Apr. 21)
Spanish-Israeli relations, which had gotten off to a promising start when Spain recognized the Jewish state in 1987, have become more strained of late, owing to Spanish sympathy for the Palestinian uprising in the Israeli-administered territories.
Friction further escalated last week when a Spanish firm, Esperanza Y Cia, lost out to an Israeli weapons manufacturer in bidding for the sale of mortar shells to the U.S. army.
According to the newspaper El Pais, government officials here have complained bitterly that the job order went to Israel because “the Jews” pressured the Reagan administration. The Spanish reaction was conveyed to American officials, who came here for a meeting of the Joint Committee for Industrial Cooperation.
According to observers here, the reference to “Jews” was significant. “It says a lot about the Spanish official perception of the Jewish influence in America,” one leading member of the Jewish community said.
Spain was one of the first European Community member states to condemn the assassination of Khalil al-Wazir, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s second in command who headed Al Fatah, its military branch.
While making no allusion as to who may have been responsible, a spokesman for the Spanish Foreign Ministry issued a statement Monday deploring the killing and promising continued Spanish solidarity with the Palestinian people.
In a somewhat unusual move, Spanish Foreign Minister Ferdinandes Ordones issued a separate statement from his hospital bed, where he is being treated for an illness.
Greece also deplored the assassination in a message Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou sent Sunday to PLO chief Yasir Arafat.