PARIS (Aug. 1)
European governments were united this week in expressing their revulsion at the murder of Lt. Col. William Higgins, but divided over whether Israel was partly to blame for his hanging by the Shiite fundamentalist Hezbollah group.
In Moscow, the Soviet Foreign Ministry issued a communique expressing “shock and horror” over Higgins’ killing and blaming the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon on Israel’s July 28 capture of Hezbollah leader Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid.
In Stockholm, Swedish Foreign Minister Sten Andersson condemned both Higgins’ murder and Israel’s capture of the Shiite leader.
Likewise in Bern, the Swiss Foreign Ministry informed Israel that it condemns both acts.
French political leaders have refrained from criticizing Israel or implying any Israeli responsibility in the killing of Higgins, but the French press has accused Israel of having unsuccessfully gambled with the lives of the Western hostages in Lebanon.
In a front-page editorial titled “The Apprentice Sorcerers,” the influential newspaper Le Monde said, “Israel has lost its gamble” and has started “a new cycle of violence.”
French President Francois Mitterrand sent a letter to President Bush on Tuesday expressing “the indignation and sympathy of the French people” at the “atrocious assassination.”