JERUSALEM (Nov. 18)
The Israel Government approved today Premier David Ben Gurion’s reply to Soviet Premier Nikolai Bulganin’s note of last week threatening Israel’s existence and demanding that the Jewish State pay compensation to Egypt for damages caused during the Sinai Peninsula campaign. The Ben Gurion note was handed to the Soviet Charge d’Affaires in Tel Aviv tonight.
Mr. Ben Gurion’s reply told the Soviet Premier that Israel had suffered far greater damage at the hands of the Egyptians than it had ever caused them. Past Egyptian aggressions, he charged, had hurt the Israeli economy to the extent of tens of millions of pounds.
“However,” continued the Israeli Premier’s note, “if peace is established between. Egypt and ourselves, we shall be ready to forgive all past transgressions by the Egyptian rulers.” He declared that, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, Israel is prepared for a settlement of her dispute with Egypt and the other Arab states “by peaceful means.”
“It is with regret,” the note concludes, that I have to point out that several of the expressions about Israel used in your letter are not likely to be interpreted by the Arab rulers as encouragement for the achievement of peace in our region, nor would they appear appropriate to accepted relations between state members of the United Nations.”
Bulganin’s letter to Israel’s Prime Minister was received here with astonishment and aroused considerable consternation. It was also noted that the letter, which was handed over to the Israel Charge d’Affaires in Moscow by Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, was received here from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York hours before the Israel Embassy in Moscow was presented with it. This was seen as an indication that the Soviet Government distributed the text to the press before delivering it to the Israel embassy–a breach of protocol.