Foreign Minister Gaston Thorn of Luxembourg met here yesterday with Premier Menachem Begin and, separately, with a panel of top Foreign Ministry officials on his second fact-finding mission since August as a special envoy of the European Economic Community (EEC). He met later with several Palestinian leaders from the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There’s sessions with Begin and other Israeli officials were described as “friendly though frank talks.” The atmosphere of the meetings, especially the one with Begin, was markedly more cordial than on his earlier visit.
The European diplomat apparently listened and said little. He did not respond when David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, criticized him for making “one-sided” public statements and for exchanging correspondence with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat over the situation in Lebanon.
He did not comment when Begin told him There will be no Palestinian state — we will due to that.” But after each of the meetings, Thorn told reporters that there had been no progress since each side — Israel and the Arab rejectionist states which he also visited recently –have not budged from their well-known positions.
The main purpose of Thorn’s two-day visit was to meet with Palestinian representatives. The meeting took place at the home of the British Consul in East Jerusalem. One of those he spoke to was Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem who said the Palestinians were ready to live at peace alongside Israel, but only in a state of their own.
The Iraqi-Iranian war figured prominently in Thorn’s discussions with Israeli diplomats although he made it clear that it did not impinge directly on his current mission. Israeli sources said later that Thorn appeared to agree with their contention that the Persian Gulf war proved that the Israeli-Arab conflict is not the main cause of regional instability.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.