Menu JTA Search

Europeans May Issue Statement Praising PLO ‘peace Strategy’

The European Community summit meeting, which opened here Monday, is expected to adopt a statement expressing satisfaction with the Palestine Liberation Organization’s new “peace strategy,” according to diplomatic sources here and in Brussels.

The heads of government of the 12 E.C. member states are expected to acknowledge the “positive aspects” of Israel’s peace formula, in a declaration to be released at the end of the two-day summit.

But at the same time, sources say, they will reiterate their belief that an international conference under U.N. auspices, with the participation of the PLO, is the surest way to achieve peace in the region.

A declaration including these stances would be a setback to Israel’s drive to win broad European support for its peace initiative. In recent weeks, both Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens have flown to European capitals to lobby government leaders on the plan.

They seem to have been unable to convince the Europeans to abandon the idea of a U.N.-sponsored international conference, despite Arens’ argument that such a gathering, with the participation of China, is “certainly inconceivable now.”

The Israelis have also failed to drum up more than reserved approval for their initiative, which calls, among other things, for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to elect representatives to negotiate with Israel.

FRANCE MAY BE STALLING

The European attitude seems to be that Shamir has evolved “positively” in the last few months. But diplomats say that Europe wants certain embellishments to the peace plan.

These include international supervision of the elections, permission for Arab residents of East Jerusalem to participate in them and an Israeli pledge that the elections will be part of an overall settlement for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Spanish officials said a detailed draft of the declaration was sent to all E.C. capitals for review last week and will be discussed further at the summit before it is released.

These officials have complained privately that France is attempting to limit the Middle East declaration to a repetition of past positions, instead of making it the launching pad of a bold new European initiative.

Spain has chaired the E.C. Council of Ministers since Jan. 1. France takes over on July 1 for the next six months.

The French, it appears, would prefer a fresh European initiative to be launched under their aegis and along their lines.

President Francois Mitterrand has been openly skeptical of Shamir’s election plan. He angered the Israelis by formally receiving PLO leader Yasir Arafat in Paris last month.

(JTA correspondent Yossi Lempkowicz in Brussels contributed to this report.)

NEXT STORY