BRUSSELS (Nov. 11)
The Israeli ambassador to the European Community has chided the European Parliament, the E.C.’s legislative body, for condemning Israel “over nothing” instead of prodding Arab countries to end their policy of the destruction of Israel.
Avi Primor, who is also Israel’s ambasaador to Belgium, appeared last Thursday before the Political Commission of the European Parliament, which meets in Strasbourg, France.
He reproached the Parliament for its “swift” condemnation of Israel over the killing of at least 17 Arabs during the Temple Mount riots on Oct. 8 without waiting to verify the facts.
The panel also heard from Chwaki Armali, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s representative in Brussels.
Armali accused Israel of “systematically murderous oppression” of the Palestinians and insisted that “an international force is needed to secure the protection of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.”
The Israeli envoy replied, “The Palestinians are not a mortal danger for Israel. They are caught between Israel, which defends itself, and the Arab states which are seeking to destroy it.”
However, he said, the land in which the Palestinians live “is strategically essential, in the current circumstances, for the survival of tiny Israel.”
Thus, “Israel will never withdraw from strategic positions as long as peace is not established in the whole region and as long as any danger is not averted.”
Primor chided the Palestinians for awaiting some savior, “perhaps in the form of Saddam Hussein,” the Iraqi president.
Asked to explain the PLO’s position in the Persian Gulf crisis, Armali answered that the PLO has always favored Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait but “the situation was complicated when American forces arrived in the region, creating the danger of an apocalyptic war.” He accused the Israeli government and “the Zionist lobbies” of distorting the PLO’s position on Iraq.
Another attack on the European forum’s anti-Israel bias came last week from a less expected source. Lord Clinton-Davies, a British member of Parliament and former European Commissioner, told a group of Jewish National Fund trustees that the E.C. was happy to sell to Israel but unwilling to give Israel access to Community markets.
Israel now has a growing and alarming deficit with the E.C., said Clinton-Davies, previously a Labor member of the House of Commons who was made a life peer in May.
Clinton-Davies, formerly opposition spokesman for trade and foreign affairs in Britain, reminded the group that the European Parliament had intervened to overturn the trade arrangements with Israel negotiated by Claude Cheysson, a former French commissioner of the E.C. This occurred a week after a similar accord was signed with Jordan, Tunisia and Syria.
“This was an unwarranted interference in legitimate trade,” Clinton-Davies said.
The trade agreement with Israel was eventually passed, after much haggling.
(The London Jewish Chronicle contributed to this report.)