Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

French Leaders Plead for Israel’s Linking to European Common Market

February 27, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A gathering of French political and economic leaders heard a strong appeal today to “Europe’s conscience” not to “abandon Israel in its hour of dire need and not to sacrifice its economic development and security for financial reasons” in the expanding Common Market.

The appeal was made by a former French Cabinet member, Diomede Catroux, now president of the France-Israel Association. He spoke at a luncheon arranged under the chairmanship of Emile Roche, chairman of France’s Economic and Social Council. A number of other speakers pleaded for Israel’s association with the six-nation Common Market.

M. Catroux stressed that the six countries had “a heavy responsibility” toward Israel, adding that “it was because of our lack of foresight between 1933 and 1939 that hundreds of thousands of European Jews had to flee the continent.” He said “our task is not ended with Israel’s creation. We cannot now condemn to death a state which we ourselves have created.”

Another former French Minister, Gerard Jacquet, now head of the European Movement, tried to answer some of the objections which might be raised against entering negotiations with Israel for some kind of association. He said: “To those who say that Israel is not in Europe, we can answer that we have accepted African states as associates and this has created a precedent. To those who may question the usefulness of such a move, we must reply that Israel’s economy is closely linked with ours, with more than half of its exports going to Western Europe.”

Other speakers discussed the European economy and the importance of Israel’s role in it. They also stressed the sacrifice to which Israel consented by devaluing its currency to facilitate negotiations with the EEC.


Israel’s position was presented by Amiel Najar, Israeli Ambassador to Belgium, who stressed that Israel was not asking for integration into the EEC or even for association. “All we want,” he told the luncheon, “is some form of customs union which would protect our interests.” He added that Israel was one of the first nation’s to show interest in the EEC and that although Israel was small and outside Europe, it was the third country–preceded only by the United States and Greece–to arrange for a diplomatic representative to the EEC and to open talks with it.

Walter Eytan, Israel’s Ambassador to France, who left yesterday for Jerusalem for consultations with the Israel Government on the European Common Market, said prior to his departure in a television interview that “for Israel, the Common Market, is a matter of life and death.” He said Israel does not seek to impose any of its political burden on the EEC community and that all it asked for was the possibility of continuing economic ties to Europe which, because of the Middle East impasse, were irreplaceable.

It was disclosed that Israel Finance Minister Levi Eshkol was scheduled to visit Europe next week for a meeting with political and economic leaders of the six nations and to discuss the question with members of the EEC Ministerial Council.

Others who spoke on Israel’s behalf included Robert LeMaignan, French delegate to the EEC, and Henri Bordeau, director of France’s National School for Public Administration. The audience included many foreign Ambassadors, French Parliamentarians, heads of major corporations and French civil servants.

Recommended from JTA