Europe to make a play for Mideast peace at emergency UN session
The European Community (EC) will introduce a Mideast resolution after all in this month's special United Nations session on the Palestinian issue. This emerged during the July 21-22 visit to West Germany by Arab League general secretary Chadli Klibi and the July 22 meeting of EC foreign ministers in Brussels.
Originally the EC decided it would not press for such a resolution to avoid a squabble with the US during the sensitive US election period. It had hoped that an earlier June 13 declaration would be sufficient to satisfy Arabs' demands without provoking a US-Arab confrontation.
Now, however, it appears that the Arabs want to introduce a tough pro-Palestinian, anti-Camp David resolution at the UN that would trigger a verbal showdown with the US. By taking its own, milder initiative, the EC hopes to avoid such a showdown. It also hopes that the US will tacitly support an EC compromise as the lesser of two evils.
The European compromise drafted by the French and West Germans after consultation with Mr. Klibi will follow the lines of the June 13 EC statement. The text has not yet been released. As reiterated by West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher at a dinner speech in honor of Klibi, however, the EC position recognizes both "the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people , especially the right to the full exercise of their self-determination," and "the right of all states of the Near East region to existence and security." The latter right "is equally valid for all Arab states and Israel," Mr. Genscher specified.
At the UN session the EC would also call on everyone to renounce the use of force in the Mideast. Together, these principles "are valid for all concerned parties, including both the Palestinian people and the PLO, which must take part in the negotiations," Genscher continued.
A European resolution, diplomats here indicate, would thus differ from an Arab resolution in not condemning the sluggish American-sponsored Camp David talks between Israel and Egypt on Arab autonomy in Israeli-occupied territory. In talking with journalists after his July 22 meeting with Klibi, West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt expressed Europe's support for as broad a unity of Arab states as possible and for a comprehensive Mideast peace based on renunciation of violence.
Klibi called for intensification of Euro-Arab cooperation, with an undefined special role for West Germany. In an interview Klibi called on Europe to make another Mideast initiative that would go further toward meeting Arab positions than the June 13 statement.
The "Euro-Arab dialogue" that the EC also called for in its June 13 statement is getting under way. The particular form it is assuming is both bilateral and multilateral, including contact between a reviving Arab League and the European Council of Ministers, the policy arm of Community.
The tricky issue in European-Arab League contacts is Egypt's exclusion from the Arab League ever since the Egyptian-Israeli signing of the Camp David settlement. The Europeans are hoping that some signs of give by Israel on the Palestinian issue might induce the moderate Arabs to reopen their own dialogue with Egypt. Just prior to Klibi's visit Genscher was at pains to tell an Al Ahram journalist that his talks with Klibi would not impair West Germany's relations with Egypt.