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Israeli, French Officials in Paris Seek to Avert Split over Boycott

August 4, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Mordechai Gazit, Israel’s Ambassador to France, met here this afternoon with the Secretary General of the French Foreign Ministry, Jean-Marie Soutou, for “a clarification” of the French government’s decision to rescind the recently approved law outlawing economic boycotts when based on race, religion or national origin as it applies to the Arab boycott against Israel.

While both France and Israel are angered over the French government’s directive and Israel’s reaction, both sides decided to treat today’s meeting as “a clarification” and not an official protest.

Israel has been angered by the government’s directive which has been rapped by members of Israel’s Parliament and the Israeli press as an unfriendly gesture. The French government has, paradoxically, been irked by the Israeli protests, which sources here said used the incident to “re-launch former anti-French propaganda campaigns.” The French sources also said privately that Israel “seems to forget recent improvements in Franco-Israeli relations.”


After the Gazit-Soutou meeting, both sides went out of their way to express the hope that relations will not be worsened and that Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s official visit to France will take place as scheduled. France last month renewed the invitation it had extended to Begin’s predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin, to pay an official visit to Paris. No date has been fixed for the visit which will be the first official one by an Israeli Premier.

The current incident was sparked by a French government directive last month instructing the state-controlled Foreign Trade Insurance Commission to underwrite French exports to the Arab states even if, and when, the contracts provide for anti-Israeli boycotts. The government directive explained that French exports to “oil-producing states” must be considered “a national priority.” This directive is seen as a de facto cancellation of the June 7 anti-boycott law which was approved by the Parliament.

Jewish organizations in France are continuing to protest the government’s directive. The French press has also been generally critical of the government’s decision.

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