WASHINGTON (Jan. 30)
Simone Veil, president of the Parliament of Europe, said here last night that if Israel’s existence as a state is threatened the European nations should “take military force” to safeguard it.
Veil, in Washington with a delegation from the European Parliament, emphasized at a news conference that “one thing that must be repeated, and I must repeat it, is that the existence of Israel will never be allowed to be threatened.”
“This is obvious to me and others,” she said speaking in French to diplomatic correspondents from many nations at the Washington offices of the European community. “But I sometimes wonder if the Israelis are all that sure, if that is indeed true for all Europeans.”
“We must be absolutely clear on that and say very clearly that if there is a threat to Israel’s very existence there would be a very brutal reaction in the part of Europe,” she said. Asked, what “brutal” signifies, Veil replied that “if the existence of Israel is threatened — I am not referring to possible incidents on her borders — Europe should take military action.” She indicated that this is a “commitment” from “all the European countries — actually all countries of the world.”
“Israel is a state and the existence of the state must be defended,” she emphasized. “I am convinced there is no doubt about this” among the European Economic Community’s nine-member countries, she added. “But,” she reiterated. “I sometimes wonder if Israelis themselves wonder if that is all that certain.”
When she was asked whether she felt the some way about the “people of Afghanistan,” Veil replied that “It is not the existence of the state of Afghanistan that is threatened but a regime that is threatened.”
Veil, who survived Auschwitz to become the most popular political figure in France and was French Minister of Health before being elected European Parliament president, spoke about Israel following questions from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s reporter who noted that in her previous statements on this Washington visit this week, including her National Press Club address and in a question period there, the Arab-Israeli situation was not discussed.
EVERY CRISIS ENDANGERS ISRAEL
In her response, Veil said “everytime the world — the Middle East — is in crisis, Israel’s situation becomes more difficult.” She said that Israel’s military, economic and “even psychological” situations “always have greater difficulties when conditions are unstable.”
“In my personal opinion that’s why Israel hesitates to go swiftly into concessions,” she said. She added that those responsible for Israel’s security always find it difficult to enter into peace agreements or a treaty “when world changes” are taking place.
“Israel perhaps would be readier to make concessions if Western Europe of the United Nations could guarantee Israel’s security,” she said. “The country can’t take risks when the situation is unsure.”
The events in Afghanistan and Iran “make the situation more serious still,” she said. Iran’s situation has “already made an economic impact” on Israel since Israel received much of its oil from Iraq. Jews in Iran, she added, are “not directly threatened but their situation is precarious.”
“Tensions are increasing,” because of the Afghanistan crisis but that “may have modified” the positions of “some” Arab countries, she said. There might be some measure of solidarity against the Soviet Union,” she observed, but she did not know if it would help Israel.
“It may create further links among themselves against Israel,” she warned.
Emphasizing the Camp David peace process “must continue,” Veil said, “Israel’s interest is to try to stabilize the country and work for agreements” and “friends of Israel should try to help Israel help stabilize her situation. Friends who came from Israel last week told me the inflation is catastrophic — not like Germany (in the 1920s), but extremely high. Friends of Israel who want Israel to survive — that’s obvious — everybody does — feel Israel must seize every opportunity to improve her situation. And Israel’s friends should seize at every opportunity that appears to help.”