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France Planning to Scuttle 242

August 16, 1977
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France is reportedly planning to submit a new United Nations resolution which will include the text of Resolution 242 but will also mention “the rights of the Palestinian nation.” The French government, diplomatic sources say, hopes that this resolution would provide a solution to the Arab-Israeli feud over Palestinian representation at a reconvened Geneva conference.

French sources say France would like to obtain West European backing for such a move and has already contacted the other eight European Economic Community (EEC) member states. No replies have as yet been obtained, these sources say, and France intends to have the matter discussed in depth at the forthcoming meeting of the political directors of the nine foreign ministries. The nine are due to hold one of their regular sessions before the end of the month.

The resolution which France plans to submit, aims, French sources here say, to provide for Israeli assurances, Palestinian recognition of Israel’s existence while mentioning the “rights of the Palestinian nation.” The French say the Palestine Liberation Organization would recognize Israel if some of their demands, such as recognition of their rights, would be met.


The French are trying to convince their EEC partners that it is preferable for Western Europe to take the initiative and submit the resolution than to have it presented by the Soviet Union and be vetoed by the United States. The French also believe Western Europe, because of its geographic position and economic interests, has a role to play in the search for a Middle East solution.

French official spokesmen, when questioned on this reported diplomatic initiative, have refused to comment besides recalling that the nine EEC foreign ministers agreed after their last meeting in London to “resume examining the Middle East situation” at a future meeting. The state-controlled radio and television last night mentioned such a French initiative as “likely,” in view of France’s interests in the area, its known stand and its special responsibilities as a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Should France go ahead with its plan, its relations with Israel are certain to suffer. A new, and probably more serious crisis would be precipitated and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s expected trip to Paris would become unlikely. Israel would certainly view such an initiative as an unfriendly and unwarranted act further aggravated by France’s attempt to rally the rest of Western Europe around it. Coming on top of the French government’s decision July 24 to cancel its own anti-boycott law, the planned initiative would deal a serious blow to Franco-Israeli ties.

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