The Foreign Minister of Denmark, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, had what was described as a “frank” discussion with Premier Menachem Begin here this morning on Israeli policies which have alienated many of its friends and supporters abroad.
Ellemann-Jensen, current chairman of the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (EEC), spoke on behalf of its 10 member-nations and according to Danish sources here “pulled no punches” in what they said was a head-on collision between the two men on four outstanding issues in the Middle East. Begin apparently was equally forthright in defending his government’s policies.
The issues involved Israel’s settlement program on the West Bank; its treatment of the Palestinians there, specifically academic freedom; President Reagan’s Middle East initiative which Israel has rejected, and Israel’s continued military presence in Lebanon.
The Danish diplomat reportedly urged Begin not to waste time on procedural issues but move ahead with talks aimed at the speedy withdrawal of Israeli forces from Lebanon. Begin, not his part, stressed that Israel has no territorial claims whatever on Lebanon.
The colloquay continued at a luncheon given in the Danish diplomat’s honor by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and at a working session with Shamir at the Foreign Ministry. Ellemann-Jensen said the “deep feeling of attachment to Israel obliges me as well as other friends of Israel to speak but whenever the State of Israel infringes on the rights of others.”
He said that despite the “traditional sympathy” in Europe for Israel and the Jewish people, “I ought not to conceal that certain aspects of present Israeli policies are looked upon in our countries with grave concern … Danish public opinion has been painfully divided over recent events in the Middle East. Some who usually side with Israel in every dispute have voiced their reservations at this time,” Ellemann-Jensen said. He said the 10 EEC countries embraced the Reagan plan and showed “understanding” for the Arab League summit resolutions adopted at Fez, Morocco.
Shamir said Israel was honestly trying to find a solution for the Palestinian population on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and sincerely believes that the autonomy plan within the framework of the Camp David accords is the best hope for peace. He said there is a national consensus that Israel cannot withdraw to its 1967 borders and will not negotiate with the PLO.
Shamir also said that the destruction of the PLO bases in Lebanon improved the prospects for peace in the region and weakened terrorism on the West Bank and Gaza.
At the working session Israeli officials stressed their concern over punitive measures the EEC has taken against Israel since the war in Lebanon began last June and which are continuing. They mentioned specifically the denial of credits and refusal to implement joint consultation projects.
Shamir observed that these sanctions were “not substantial” in economic terms but are considered here to be “annoying and troublesome and they sour the atmosphere.”
Shamir urged the Danish Foreign Minister to have the EEC lift the sanctions. He also asked his guest to raise before the EEC ministers the problems Israel will face when Spain officially becomes a member of economic community. Both countries export citrus to the European market.
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.