BRUSSELS (Dec. 21)
The European Community condemned the Israeli expulsion of 415 Moslem fundamentalists from the administered territories but did not let the incident interfere with talks aimed at increasing economic cooperation between Israel and Europe.
Two days of talks here last week between the E.C. and Israel focused on expanding a 1975 trade accord between the two sides to accommodate the creation in January of a single European market.
A 15-member Israeli government delegation took part in the talks, which were aimed at associating Israel with a new free-trade entity that will include the 12 E.C. countries and the six nations of the European Free Trade Association: Austria, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
Mordechai Drori, Israeli’s ambassador to the European Community, headed the delegation.
“We want Israeli goods to be able to move freely all over Europe, including the EFTA countries,” an Israeli official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In the past, differences between the E.C. and Israel on the Middle East peace process have gotten in the way of attempts to strengthen economic cooperation. But it appears that another round of talks on trade will take place in Israel next month, despite the Israeli expulsions.
The E.C. did issue a statement Friday formally condemning the deportations as a “violation of international law.” But there was no talk of sanctions or suspending negotiations.
A sharper rebuke was given by Belgium’s foreign minister, Willy Claes, who called the expulsions a “blunder” motivated by domestic political considerations.
Speaking as he prepared to leave for a three-day visit to Israel, Claes said the Middle East peace negotiations must continue “at any price.”
Claes arrived in Israel on Monday. He was to meet with Prime Minister Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Bank of Israel Governor Jacob Frenkel and a Palestinian delegation before flying to Cairo for meetings with top Egyptian leaders.