GENEVA (May. 24)
Some European leaders appear to be receptive to the idea of sending a United Nations peacekeeping force to Israel’s administered territories.
Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat is expected to call for the dispatch of a full-scale international force to the West Bank and Gaza Strip when he addresses the U.N. Security Council here Friday.
That would be a more far-reaching move than simply sending a U.N. observer team into the territories on a short-term basis, a proposal the United States is willing to discuss but which Israel strongly opposes.
But in Belgium, Foreign Minister Mark Eyskens welcomed the idea of a U.N. peacekeeping force and proposed that the European Community participate in its formation.
His suggestion was favorably received in the Netherlands by the coalition partners in the Dutch Cabinet.
Eyskens’ proposal for E.C. involvement was welcomed by Hans Gualtherie van Weezel, a leader of the Christian Democrats in the Dutch Parliament. He said in a radio interview Thursday that Dutch Foreign Minister Hans van den Broek could not oppose the idea if a majority of the E.C. supported it.
Adrian Melkert, junior foreign affairs specialist of the Dutch Labor Party, who recently returned from a visit to Israel, also enthusiastic ally supported a U.N. peacekeeping force and said Holland could contribute to it.
In Rome, the leader of Italy’s Communist Party, Achille Occhetto, called for E.C. sanctions against Israel and U.N. intervention.
Given the “abnormal” situation in the territories, “one cannot maintain normal relations with Israel,” Occhetto said. He urged the E.C. to get tough with Israel. “There needs to be procedures above and beyond condemnation,” he said.
WILL REQUEST ISRAELI WITHDRAWAL
Occhetto, whose party is the second largest in Italy, spoke Tuesday after meeting with PLO representative Nemer Hammad and the Saudi Arabian ambassador, Nasser al-Torki.
PLO officials told reporters here that in addition to asking for a U.N. force, Arafat will renew his offer to negotiate directly with Israel and meet with any Israeli official face-to-face, they said.
He will also call for the withdrawal of all Israeli forces from the territories and will ask the U.N. to keep its forces there until a final settlement of the conflict.
Though Arafat will likely introduce this call in Geneva, a vote on a resolution calling for U.N. intervention would only be voted on only after lengthy negotiations in New York next week, diplomatic sources here said.
U.N. spokesman Francois Giuliani stressed that “there is no question of any resolution or any decision to be taken in Geneva.”
(Contributing to this report were JTA correspondents Edwin Eytan in Paris, Ruth E.Gruber in Rome and Henrietta Boas in Amsterdam.)