PARIS (Dec. 30)
The Jewish leadership has accused the French government of attitudes that undercut the anti-Iraq alliance in the Persian Gulf.
Jean Kahn, president of CRIF, the representative body of French Jewish organizations, aired his complaints in a broadcast on the Jewish radio station here.
He said that by calling for an international conference now to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the French authorities are playing into the hands of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, who has been trying to link the two.
Kahn said he could not understand why the French government still considers the Palestine Liberation Organization to be the valid representative of the Palestinian people.
“By joining Saddam Hussein, Yasir Arafat’s organization is likely to fight against French soldiers should conflict erupt,” the Jewish leader maintained.
Finally, Kahn demanded to know why France does not “express its indignation when Saddam Hussein openly threatens Tel Aviv.”
The Iraqi leader told Spanish television on Dec. 23 that Tel Aviv would be the first target of his missiles should war break out in the Gulf, whether or not Israel was involved.
“On this particular issue, like on many others, one can but note the silence of France, of Europe and of some moral authorities like the Vatican,” the French Jewish leader said.
“The current policy of France is apparently hurting her own interests. It is disappointing us and we must express our disagreement on this point,” he said.
JORDANIAN MILITARY EXERCISES DISCUSSED
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Michel Rocard was reported last week to have questioned the reliability of Syria as a member of the anti-Iraq coalition in the Persian Gulf.
According to the Socialist weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, Rocard doubts Syria is ready to join Western and Arab troops in possible military action against Iraq.
Rocard revealed to leaders of French political parties that the Syrians avoided the first joint meeting of the allied chiefs of staffs, the weekly reported.
The Defense Ministry has confirmed a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report that the French Mirage F-ICR reconnaissance jets have been pulled out of Saudi Arabia because they could be mistaken for Iraq’s French-built fighter-bombers in case of combat in the area.
In Jerusalem, meanwhile, the Israeli Cabinet held a short discussion of the Gulf crisis Sunday. Defense experts briefed the ministers on Iraq’s ongoing preparations for war and on large-scale exercises that the Jordanian army has recently been holding. Some speculated the discussion had deliberately been kept brief to prevent the possibility of leaks to the press.
(JTA correspondent David Landau in Jerusalem contributed to this report.)
Because of the New Year’s Day holiday, the JTA Daily News Bulletin will not be published on Wednesday, Jan. 2.