Israel Opens Talks with European Nations on Link to Common Market
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Israel Opens Talks with European Nations on Link to Common Market

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After preparations testing more than a year, Israel and the European Economic Community today opened formal and intricate negotiations for the establishment of a link between Israel and the six-nation European Common Market.

Levi Eshkol, Israel’s Minister of Finance, heading a top-ranking delegation of 25 members, faced the EEC’s Council of Ministers, the organization’s highest body. In an address lasting an hour and a half, he put forth proposals for solving the economic problems facing Israel as a result of the Common Market pact to which France, Italy, West Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg have adhered. He also proposed the general lines along which, in Israel’s opinion, the talks should proceed.

Outlining Israel’s historical and economic tasks, and Israel’s close links with Western Europe, Mr. Eshkol requested “speedy” solution of the problems facing Israel since the creation of the EEC, in view of the fact that the EEC countries form a major part of the lands to which Israel directs its exports. He told the Ministers Israel would prefer to see its problems treated on a “global basis, ” and not “item by item. “

Jean Rey, the so-called “Foreign Minister” of the EEC, welcomed the Israel delegation to the meeting at the highest level, and was host at a luncheon tendered the Israelis after the morning session. Then the two sides, in the absence of both Mr. Eshkol and M. Rey, got down to a working session at which plans were mapped for further talks which will get under way tomorrow.


It had previously been indicated that, if the proposed Israeli link were to be considered “item by item, ” a total of more than 100 separate items would have to be examined. The afternoon meeting decided to form several committees which will look into various phases of the overall problem. In the absence of Mr. Eshkol, the Israel delegation will be headed by Amiel Najar, Israel’s Ambassador to both Belgium and the EEC. Mr. Eshkol will return to Israel Wednesday.

The strength of Israel’s delegation, and its all-encompassing character, was indicated by a breakdown showing that, among the members of the mission who came here with Mr. Eshkol, are ranking experts from Israel’s Ministries of Finance, Commerce and Industry, Agriculture, and Foreign Affairs.

Prior to the morning meeting, Mr. Eshkol told a news conference that Israel would like an association with Euromart similar to that already granted Greece. “We would press, ” he said, “for an arrangement which would enable us to sell our products and services in Western Europe. We do not exclude any possible association for reaching an arrangement with the Common Market. “

In reply to questions, Mr. Eshkol declared that Israel will not ask for financial aid or subsidies “because, by now, Israel can rely on private investments to build its economy. ” He declined to discuss the possibility of Israel entering a customs union with the EEC.

“Israel,” he continued, “is confronted by a very serious problem. We must develop a modern economy, and have already embarked on large-scale industrialization and development of our agriculture which can give us the possibility of achieving the fundamentals of a modern economy. Israel’s population at the end of this decade will reach 3, 000, 000, and such a modern economy is necessary. “

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