JERUSALEM (Jul. 24)
Israel and the European Community remain far apart on the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Middle East peace process.
That was made abundantly clear at the separate meetings Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister David Levy held with a delegation of three E.C. foreign ministers here Monday night and Tuesday.
While the Israeli leaders maintained that the PLO can have no part in the process because it seeks the physical elimination of Israel, the European diplomats insisted it is the necessary Palestinian partner with which Israel eventually must negotiate.
But the E.C. ministers, who hold high political rank in their countries, did not press for immediate direct talks between Israel and the PLO, acknowledging that it is not now a practical possibility.
And the Israelis were gratified with a pledge by their guests to work for abrogation of the 1975 U.N. General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.
Israeli sources said the European ministers also responded favorably to Levy’s urging that the E.C. desist from threatening sanctions against Israel because of its alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians in the administered territories.
In fact, an Israeli spokesman described the talks here as “friendly.”
The E.C. ministers also met Monday night with Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition Labor Party. He told them the E.C. could best contribute to regional peace by helping to develop a Middle Eat common market that would embrace Israel and the Arab states.
The E.C. delegation was headed by Italian Foreign Minister Gianni de Michelis, who presently holds the rotating chairmanship of the E.C. Council of Ministers.
He was accompanied by the immediate past chairman, Foreign Minister Gerard Collins of Ireland, and Jacques Poos, the foreign minister of Luxembourg, who will assume the chairmanship on Jan. 1, 1991.
They comprise the E.C’s so-called “troika,” devoted to Middle East diplomacy.
They have come here in the wake of an E.C. announcement that it will set up a mission in East Jerusalem to monitor its aid to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The ministers, together with their entourage of aides and E.C. officials, flew directly from Tel Aviv to Tunis on Tuesday to meet with Arab League officials and with the PLO’s foreign policy spokesman, Farouk Kaddoumi.