PARIS (Jun. 14)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion told President de Gaulle of France today that there was a strong possibility that Russian Jewry would migrate to Israel some day.
The Prime Minister, who also said that an increased immigration was expected from North Africa, made the remark in reply to President de Gaulle’s question about future immigration to Israel. The exchange took place after the formal luncheon tendered by the French President to the Israel Prime Minister as one of the highlights of Mr. Ben Gurion’s official visit to France.
After the luncheon, which was held in the huge dining room of the official residence of the President, the Palais d’Elysee, the two leaders retired to the Palace gardens for coffee. They were joined by Premier Michel Debre, Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville, former Premier Guy Mollet, Deputy Israel Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Mr. Ben-Gurion’s private secretary, Yitzhak Navon.
The assembled personalities discussed a variety of topics, such as the future of the underdeveloped countries and more specifically, Israeli topics. President de Gaulle asked a number of pertinent questions about Israel and the Jewish people, one of them that concerning future immigration. He also asked the Prime Minister for an explanation of Israel’s rapid agricultural expansion.
DE GAULLE EXPRESSES ‘CONFIDENCE, SYMPATHY AND ADMIRATION’ FOR ISRAEL
President de Gaulle, citing his visits to Palestine in 1931 with the French forces in Syria and one during the war years, lauded the great advances made by the Jews in Israel and the prosperity they were bringing to a once barren land. Those remarks led the Prime Minister to ask the French leader whether he had any plans to visit Israel. The General replied: “I can’t rule this out but it seems unlikely for the present.”
The French President, proposing a teast to Mr. Ben-Gurion at the luncheon, told the 40 guests: “I want to pay tribute to Ben-Gurion who personifies the State of Israel. I want to express my confidence, my sympathy and admiration.” On a more personal note, the French leader added that he also wanted to pay tribute to the Prime Minister’s “rich humor,” which he said persisted despite his “hard work and multiple worries.”
In responding, Mr. Ben-Gurion recalled France’s humanitarian traditions and constant friendship for Israel. He said: “Although we are only a small nation, France will always find us a faithful and constant friend not only because of our common interests but also because of our common ties and spiritual aspirations.”
The two leaders had a 90-minute private conversation at which only an interpreter was present. While the subjects discussed were not revealed, sources close to both delegations said that the atmosphere of the talks was “very cordial and friendly.” The two leaders spent 15 minutes together before lunch in the Palace dinning room and then joined the guests for the luncheon.
The Prime Minister went to the courtyard of the Palais d’Elysee, for the luncheon after a 90-minute meeting with French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville. The Ben-Gurion-de Murville talks were longer than had been scheduled at the French Foreign Office.
The Prime Minister said at the end of the meeting that he and the French Foreign Minister had discussed common problems and the Middle East without special reference to Israel. He added that he had found in the French Foreign Minister’s views an attitude toward many problems similar to that of Israel.
In an impressive afternoon ceremony, the Prime Minister placed a blue-and-white wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Thousands of spectators applauded and cheered as the Prime Minister’s cavalcade drove through the Champs Elysee. The Prime Minister, who was accompanied by French Minister Delegate Roger Frey, waved to the cheering crowd.