BRUSSELS (Sep. 18)
Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy seems to have achieved a spectacular success in smoothing Israel’s long-strained relations with the European Community, and he has Saddam Hussein of Iraq largely to thank.
Levy flew home Tuesday after a one-day sojourn here in which all of his major objectives were gained.
The foreign ministers of the 12 E.C. nations agreed to suspend indefinitely the anti-Israel sanctions voted by the European Parliament on June 14. They decided to renew negotiations for further economic and scientific cooperation with Israel, which were suspended last year.
They also agreed to grant Israel a $65 million five-year loan and organize joint economic activities. They approved a previously postponed trip to Israel by the E.C. commissioner in charge of external affairs, Abel Matutes.
Finally, the ministers refrained from raising the issue of sending an E.C. diplomatic representative to Jerusalem to monitor conditions in the administered territories.
That move, under serious consideration until recently, was vigorously opposed by the Israelis, who now have reason to hope that it has been shelved indefinitely.
All told, Levy had a resounding success in his three hours of consultation with the E.C. ministers in the framework of the E.C.-Israel Council for Mutual Cooperation.
ISRAEL PROVIDED FIRST WARNING
The mutual bonhomie was even more evident at their informal private lunch. The tense atmosphere that marked previous Israeli-E.C. meetings vanished to the extent that Levy found himself on a first-name basis with Britain’s foreign secretary, Sir Douglas Hurd, Foreign Minister Gianni de Michaelis of Italy and Hans van den Broek, the Dutch foreign minister.
The marked change of attitude can be credited in large measure to the crisis in the Persian Gulf. The Western European nations participating in the international blockade of Iraq readily acknowledged that Israel was the first to warn of Saddam Hussein’s aggressive designs.
Levy drove the point home at the luncheon meeting. “Where would you in Europe and the Western world be today unless Israel did what it did in June 1981?” he asked, referring to the Israeli air raid that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor under construction near Baghdad.
“You in Europe and probably the entire world would be at the mercy of this dictator,” Levy claimed.
“When dealing with us,” he added, “remember that you have to cope only with one Saddam Hussein, while we in Israel have to deal with dozens of Husseins, and this for 365 days a year.”
Dutch Foreign Minister van den Broek, who has been a sharp critic of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians, asked, “How can we talk about this (the Palestinian issue) now when we have such a monster (Hussein) lurking outside?”
Levy reported Monday that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned the Iraqi foreign minister, Tariq Aziz, in Moscow earlier this month that if Iraq attacks Israel, “Russia will be on Israel’s side.”