PARIS (Feb. 23)
— The deadlock between the Israeli and French positions on the Middle East peace process was echoed in Tokyo on Thursday, where heads of state from all over the world are gathering for the funeral of Emperor Hirohito.
It was there that the full force of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s absolute refusal to have any contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization or agree to the creation of a Palestinian state was conveyed by President Francois Mitterrand of France to U.S. President George Bush.
Mitterrand was exposed to Shamir’s tenacity on the issue at their three-and-a-half-hour meeting at the Elysee Palace here Wednesday.
According to reports from Tokyo, the French leader told Bush what to expect when he meets with the Israeli premier in Washington on April 3.
The information imparted may give the new American administration a better grasp of Israel’s position and presumably help it formulate its own.
As far as France and the rest of the European Community is concerned, the Israeli positions are clear. Shamir summed them up at a news conference here Thursday.
His government will never accept a Palestinian state. It will never negotiate, directly or indirectly, with the PLO.
However, Shamir said, Israel is prepared to make an exceptional effort to reach a peaceful solution with the Arab world through direct negotiations.
It would negotiate with the neighboring Arab states and with Palestinians living in the Israeli-administered territories, the prime minister said.
PRESSURE FROM FRENCH CONSERVATIVES
Shamir pressed those same points at his meetings with Mitterrand, with Prime Minister Michel Rocard, Foreign Minister Ronald Dumas and a half dozen other Cabinet ministers.
He reportedly urged Mitterrand to use his influence to bring King Hussein of Jordan to the negotiating table.
French officials said that sounded like the “Jordanian option” often ridiculed by Shamir when it was advocated by Labor Party leader Shimon Peres, who was foreign minister in the previous Labor-Likud coalition government.
Mitterrand was to meet with Hussein in Tokyo on Friday for a review of the Middle East situation. But French officials said he has made no undertaking to raise Israel’s issues with the Jordanian monarch.
Meanwhile, Shamir came under strong pressure from French conservative as well as Socialist leaders to find a political solution to the Palestinian uprising.
At a state dinner in his honor Thursday at the Paris City Hall, the Israeli leader was told by Mayor Jacques Chirac that Israel must recognize the new reality.
The uprising “is not a bush fire which can be put out with ease. It represents the deep aspiration of the Palestinian people. If this situation is not remedied,” Chirac warned, “there is the danger of a rise of extremism on both sides.”
The Gaullist leader, who is much closer politically to Shamir’s Likud party than Mitterrand, spoke at a gathering attended by many prominent French Jewish leaders.
Moreover, it was held on the eve of nation-wide municipal elections in which the Jewish vote plays a relatively important role.
Prime Minister Rocard was even more out-spoken at a banquet in Shamir’s honor Wednesday night.
He warned that Israel was losing time and wasting rare opportunities for peace. He hinted that Europe will have to act to restore calm and stability in the Middle East.
Shamir was the guest of the Jewish community Thursday night at a reception which more than 2,000 people attended. He was to return to Israel on Friday.