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Israel Rejects American Request to Denationalize Potash Industry

The Israel Government has rejected a suggestion made by Eugene R. Black, American president of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, who had asked that Israel denationalize its Dead Sea- potash works, turning the enterprise over to private investors.

An announcement to this effect was made here today by Mordechai Bentov, Minister of Development. Mr. Bentov disclosed the disagreement with Mr. Black while answering questions regarding his Ministry’s budget in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament,

Mr. Black was here recently, inspecting various Israeli enterprises, including the potash works, preparatory to a decision to be made by the World Bank next month about Israel’s long-pending application for a multi-million-dollar loan. Part of the proceeds of that loan are earmarked for expansion of the potash industry. Another principal portion of the loan is to go, according to Israel’s plans for broad expansion of port facilities.

According to Mr. Bentov, Mr. Black was told Israel must preserve public ownership of the Dead Sea potash industry, since the Dead Sea contains Israel’s greatest national mineral resource. Mr. Bentov said the Government also feels that the profits from the potash industry must not be funnelled out of Israel but must, instead, be reinvested here,

Mr. Black was also told, the Development Minister stated, that, if the World Bank should insist on denationalization of the Dead Sea potash industry, such insistence would be interpreted as an attempt by the Bank to use its loan for political purposes. Mr. Black was assured, however, Mr. Bentov declared, that Israel would continue efforts to solicit foreign investments in the potash industry. But such investors, the Government holds, would have to be only partners, while majority ownership remained in the hands of the Government.

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