BRUSSELS (Oct. 22)
Israel is considering how to adapt to the changes that will occur when the Brussels-based European Community becomes a fully integrated European single market, little more than three years from now.
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens has summoned his country’s envoys to the 12 E.C. member states for a brain-storming session starting here Monday night.
He is attending along with Deputy Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu; Reuven Merhav, director general of the Foreign Ministry; and other senior officials.
The three-day meeting will be devoted to measures Israel might take in advance of the 1993 deadline when the E.C, countries remove all internal trade barriers.
The European Community is Israel’s most important trading partner, apart from the United States. Its complete economic consolidation is being depicted by some as the creation of a “fortress Europe” that could exclude other nations.
Israel is anxious to strengthen both its economic and political ties with the community, which already acts as a single diplomatic entity when dealing with regional problems, such as the Middle East conflict.
DIRECT AID TO PALESTINIANS
For instance, the E.C. Executive Commission announced Friday that the community will extend some $5 million in direct aid to the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The funds, which are intended to improve the Palestinian population’s economic and social conditions, will subsidize medical services, agriculture, the creation of data banks and industrial development.
The foreign ministers of the countries serving as current, immediate past and next rotating chair of the community constitute a diplomatic “troika” empowered to deal with Middle East problems.
Currently, that means the foreign ministers of France, Spain and Ireland. According to in formed sources here, they will visit Israel, Egypt and possibly other Middle East countries next month and meet with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.
Some experts in Israel have complained that the government has been too slow to respond to the imminent changes in the European Community.
But preparations are already under way. Merhav visited Brussels last August to plan the construction of a second Israeli Embassy here next year.
It will house a diplomatic staff that will deal exclusively with the European Community and its legislative body, the European Parliament, which is based in Strasbourg, France.
The new mission will be headed by Ambassador Avi Primor, Israel’s present ambassador to Belgium, who has been de facto envoy to the E.C.
Primor will be replaced as envoy to Belgium by Colette Avital, currently Israel’s ambassador to Portugal, according to well-informed sources.
During his visit here, Arens will confer with Belgian Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens on the latest Middle East developments and efforts to revive the peace process. He is also expected to meet with the European commissioner in charge of Mediterranean affairs, Abel Matutes of Spain.
On Wednesday, Arens will visit neighboring Luxembourg, also an E.C. member state, where he will be received by Grand Duke Jean and Prime Minister Jacques Santer.
He returns to Brussels on Thursday for a meeting with the Belgian Jewish community, still reeling from the shock of the Oct. 3 murder of its leader, Dr. Joseph Wybran.
Arens is scheduled to return to Israel on Thursday, accompanied by more than 100 Belgian personalities invited to Israel in a cultural exchange.