The chairman of the European Community's Council of Ministers said today that the 10 member nations plan to reevaluate the Middle East situation and decide whether to adopt a new policy.
The community's present policy is embodied in the 1980 Venice Declaration, which calls for Palestinian self-determination and Palestine Liberation Organization participation in a peace agreement.
Following a 90-minute meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Leo Tindemans said that for now, the Venice Declaration remains "the last common statement" of the community.
"There is not yet a new European policy. The objective of my trips to the Middle East is precisely to get new information which will permit us to make a new assessment and new evaluation by the European countries," Tindemans, who is also Belgium's foreign minister, told reporters.
He added, "We must study now the new situation . . . and then say whether we can launch new ideas. On the basis of the new evaluation, the 10 will see if we will make a new declaration or not."
While he did not explicitly say so, the new situation to which Tindemans referred appeared to include Israel's withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula on April 25. Tindemans said he would draft a report on his Middle East talks for the community to consider.
Tindemans' visit here, coupled with a flurry of official visits by other Western leaders in the last four months, has been encouraging to Israeli officials, who have been working to discourage an independent European peace initiative and encourage support of the Camp David peace process.
Since March, Prime Minister Menachem Begin, Shamir and other Israeli leaders have met here with French President Francois Mitterrand, French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson, British foreign secretary Lord Carrington, who has since resigned, and Italian Foreign Minister Emilio Colombo. West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher is due here Wednesday.
An Israeli Foreign Ministry source said tonight that Shamir told Tindemans that the best way Europe could help in the Middle East would be to endorse "publicly and unequivocally" the Camp David process and give economic assistance to Egypt to demonstrate to other Arab states that Camp David is the only way peace can be achieved.
In a speech tonight at a dinner, Shamir alluded to the Venice Declaration, saying "any support of the PLO in action or by declarations, directly or by implication, weakens the chances for a dialogue between us and our Arab neighbors. Calls to include the terrorist organizations in negotiations encourage their activities and disregard reality, and they make more remote the quest for peace."