REHOVOTH, Israel (Oct. 1)
President Truman gave Dr. Chaim Weizmann definite assurances at their meeting in Washington last November that he would support Jewish claims for the inclusion of the Negev in the territory of the Jewish state, the Israeli President told a press conference here today.
Dr. Weizmann said that Truman’s assurances were given after he had shown him the Negev on a map and explained that the area is of vast importance to Israel for all plans for Jewish immigration and resettlement. The President of the Provisional Government of Israel revealed at the news parley that he and Mrs. Weizmann had formally renounced their British nationality two days prior to their departure for Israel.
The passports of Dr. and Mrs. Weizmann were handed to the British Consul in Geneva with a covering letter for the British Home Secretary, in which the Israeli President stated that it was a great privilege for him to have had a British passport, but since he is now the head of a state, and is returning home, he must renounce his British citizenship. The letter added that he was proud to have been a British citizen.
(From Paris it was reported here today that Major Aubrey S. Eban, Israeli representative to the United Nations, who hails from South Africa, surrendered his rank and nationality and assumed Israeli citizenship.)
In view of Truman’s attitude towards the question of the Negev, Dr. Weizmann said, “I am deeply disappointed, with all my respect for Count Bernadotte, to see that his plan wishes to take this project from us.” Further referring to Bernadotte, the President of Israel said that if the late mediator’s plan to internationalize Jerusalem was intended to muffle Jewish feelings for Jerusalem, it would not be successful.
PAYS TRIBUTE TO RUSSIA: HOPES BRITISH ATTITUDE WILL IMPROVE
Asked if Israel’s fate is linked with that of the United Nations, Dr. Weizmann replied: “I would like to believe so and I hope it may come, but so far it is not being made easy for us.” He spoke warmly of Switzerland’s neutrality which he studied with a view towards applying it to Israel. “The way out of difficulties for us may be a real, honest and free neutrality,” he said.
Asked about Israel’s relations with Russia, the Israeli President paid tribute to the Soviet Government for “behaving admirably towards us.” Declaring that the U.S.S.R. “has supported us honestly and fairly,” he added: “I should like to see our relations with all countries on a level of decency and trust. I have no particular are to grind for Russia or any other country.”
Dr. Weizmann expressed the hope that relations between Israel and Britain would improve soon. “Britain,” he stated, “will play a very great role in the Middle East. In the interests of both parties, the relations should be normalized. They are at present not what they should be. I believe there is a considerable volume of opinion which would like to see the re-establishment of the old traditional friendship and I will do what I can for this.”
ISRAEL SHOULD LIVE AT PEACE WITH EAST AND WEST, WEIZMANN SAYS
“Israel can and should live in peace with both the East and West,” the Israeli President continued. Touching on the possibility of establishing peace with the Arabs, Dr. Weizmann warned that peace will not come of itself, but must be worked for. He added that he would like to see definite steps taken to achieve it.
Referring to the domestic situation in the Jewish state, Dr. Weizmann asserted that he was deeply impressed with the buoyancy in the air and the apparent happiness of the people, despite the difficult economic situation. Asked by a correspondent whether Israeli’s emergency defense regulations are consonant with democratic traditions, the Israeli President replied: “Terrorism does not fit into democratic traditions.”
Asked how he conceived the role of a President, Dr. Weizmann stated that he clearly did not intend to be a figurehead, but at the same time did not wish to interfere in the machinery of government, indicating that he favored a role similar to that of Thomas Masaryk in Czechoslovakia.