PARIS (Jun. 7)
Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion wound up his four-nation tour of world capitals here today with reported assurances from French leaders of renewed commitment to support Israel in the event of an Arab attack.
It was also understood that French leaders assured the Israeli visitors, who included Foreign Minister Golda Meir, that France would support and explain Israel’s situation should the issue come up for consideration before Western leaders.
The Prime Minister told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that “if my conversations with leaders of other governments whom I’ve met would have been as fruitful as my talks in Paris, Israel’s situation would really be excellent.” He added that he found a complete understanding with French Ministers on world problems as well as the Middle East situation.
Israel leaders, it was also reported, met with sympathy for their plea for closer economic association with the European six-nation community. Diplomatic sources emphasized that the Prime Minister’s visit met with even more success than had been hoped for. While the Prime Minister did not make any concrete requests, complete understanding reportedly was reached in all areas, both general international ones and those touching on the Middle East and Franco-Israel relations.
A dinner tendered to Mr. Ben-Gurion by French Premier Michel Debre formally closed the Israeli group’s visit to France. Mr. Ben-Gurion urged the French Premier to visit Israel and was told “I will come as soon as I have time.” Before the dinner, Mr. Ben-Gurion-conferred for 45 minutes with the French Prime Minister. After the dinner he talked at length with French Foreign Minister Maurice Couve de Murville while Mrs. Meir talked to Premier Debre.
The French attitude indicated in the talks held during the Ben-Gurion visit was summed up by a comment by a French Minister, whose name was not disclosed, at the hotel where the dinner took place, to the effect that “one never wins by giving in to blackmail.”
During the afternoon, Mr. Ben-Gurion met 40 representatives of French Jewish organizations. In an informal conversation, the Prime Minister appealed to them again to study Hebrew and to demonstrate their Zionism by emigrating to Israel. “Why should I have to speak to you in English?” he said. “I am still glad to see that the Jewish spirit is alive in France today. But the tests of a Jew are 1, speaking Hebrew and 2, living in Israel.” Baron Guy De Rothschild asked him “So in your reckoning I am not a Jew?” The Premier laughed.