The French Foreign Minister, M. Jean Sauvagnargues, flew into Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv,?
The French Foreign Minister, M. Jean Sauvagnargues, flew into Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday night (30 October), amid growing disquiet throughout Israel about his country's Middle East policies.
Before his plane was due to land, several dozen supporters of the centre-right Likud opposition party, demonstrated peacefully outside the French Embassy which is situated on Tel Aviv's seashore promenade.
Though the people who did attend the demonstration were vociferous in their protests and slogans, the turn-out was comparatively small, and did not reflect the true extent of Israeli public opinion against the French and their allegedly pro-Arab stance.
When M. Sauvagnargues arrived, he was met by the Israeli Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Mr. Yigal Allon. The day before, Mr. Allon had acknowledged that the Israeli Government did have misgivings about French policies.
The Airport was under heavy guard for security reasons, and to prevent possible protest demonstrations. The Likud Party had called for the cancellation of the three day visit even before it began, but despite the risk of violent demonstrations, the Government decided to allow the visit to go ahead.
SYNOPSIS: Outside the French Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, right-wing demonstrators gathered on the promenade to protest against the impending visit of the French Foreign Minister, Monsieur Jean Sauvagnargues. The demonstration took place only hours before Monsieur Sauvagnargues was due to fly into Israel on Wednesday evening. Only a small number of protesters turned out, but a loudspeaker made up for lack of numbers.
Before leaving the airport, the French Foreign Minister addressed a news conference. His visit is the first one by a French Minister of Foreign Affairs, and it was bitterly opposed by the centre-right opposition Likud Party, who consider French Middle East policies are pro-Arab. They had demanded that the three-day visit be cancelled. The strength of Israeli public opinion against French policies is considerable, and the smallness of the demonstration earlier in the day, had not been representative.