BRUSSELS (Oct. 5)
The European Community is strengthening its cooperation with Israel as several years of strained ties yield to shared views on Middle East peace efforts.
The president of the E.C.’s executive commission said the change in the climate of relations between Israel and the 12-nation body is “indisputable,” following the elections which brought Israel’s Labor Party to power in June.
Jacques Delors spoke at a joint news conference last Friday with Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres after the two met in the Belgian capital. Peres also held discussions with Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes.
Delors said the E.C. would “update” its 1975 free trade and cooperation agreement with Israel after failure to ratify new protocols during the previous Likud-led government of Yitzhak Shamir. The E.C. had frequent criticisms of the previous government’s policy in the administered territories.
But Delors ruled out for the time being Israeli membership in the European Economic Era, a large market to be created in 1993 between the 12 E.C. member states and the seven member states of the European Free Trade Association.
However, Delors called for an “ad hoc” solution to help Israel.
“Israel is a particular case. It is a post-industrial society with a high level of development in research and technology. But it is also in the midst of a Middle East with a difficult economic situation. We have to find an ad hoc solution for Israel,” he said.
Peres used the conference to underline the importance of a European role in the multilateral talks on Middle East regional issues. He spoke of sharing participation with Washington, with the United States playing a central role in Middle East bilateral talks and Europe holding sway in the multination discussions.
Peres urged the creation of a special bank for the Middle East created on the model of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for the Central and Eastern European states.
During his one-day visit here, Peres chaired a meeting of Israeli ambassadors to the E.C. and EFTA member nations.