European Socialists No Longer Against Ratifying Trade Accords with Israel

A change of position by the Socialist group in the Parliament of Europe may have paved the way for speedy ratification of three European Community trade agreements with Israel that the parliament refused to endorse last March.

But it is not certain whether the economic accords, which the European Community signed with Israel last year, will be reintroduced for ratification at the June plenary session, which opens Monday.

The parliament, based in Strasbourg, France, is the legislative body of the 12-nation European Community. The Socialists, representing 165 of the 518 deputies, constitute the largest single political faction.

The parliament’s refusal three months ago to ratify the trade agreements was a blow to Israel’s economy and prestige. It was seen at the time as an expression of displeasure by many deputies with the measures Israel was taking to suppress the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Many Socialists voted against ratification, along with the Communists, the Greens, some Christian Democrats and British Conservatives.

But Rudi Arndt of West Germany, president of the Socialist group, said this week that the group had dropped its reservations to ratification. With the support of the Socialists, the accords seem sure of getting the 260 votes necessary to be approved.

If they do, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres may win a lot of the credit. During a recent visit to the European Parliament, he stressed that “any measures against Israel are counterproductive.”

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