Eshkol Leaves New York; Inspects Space Center Facilities in Cape Kennedy
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Eshkol Leaves New York; Inspects Space Center Facilities in Cape Kennedy

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Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol left New York today aboard a U.S. Air Force special plane after a busy four-day visit during which he was honored by the City of New York, by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant, by Adlai E. Stevenson, Permanent Representative of the United States to the UN, and by leading Jewish organizations.

The Eshkol party landed later at Cape Kennedy, Florida, where Dr. Kurt H. Debus, director of the John F. Kennedy Space Center, National Aeronatics and Space Administration, gave a luncheon in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Eshkol. The Israel Prime Minister and his wife then visited the facilities of the Space Center and later departed aboard a U. S. Air Force special flight for Houston, Texas, where they were given a reception by Mayor Louie Welch.

Prior to his departure from New York, the Israel Prime Minister said in a television interview that he did not consider Soviet Premier Khrushchev’s speeches in Egypt last month a “go-ahead” signal to the Arabs to attack Israel. He expressed the opinion that, in his utterances against Israel during his visit in Egypt, Mr. Khrushchev used “much milder language” than he had in previous statements.

Mr. Eshkol cited the fact that Mr. Khrushchev mentioned Israel in connection with “imperialist nations” only once on his visit. Much more indicative of Russia’s attitude, said the Israeli Prime Minister, was Mr. Khrushchev’s letter several months ago to all countries, including Israel, suggesting that all problems, including border disputes, be resolved by “peaceful negotiations.”


While Mr. Eshkol thought it would be a “good idea” for Soviet Russia and the United States to include the Arab-Israel dispute in any negotiations they might hold toward some kind of detente, he said that he was “not sure if the time is ripe” for such talks. He revealed, however, that he had mentioned the possibility in his discussions with President Johnson.

The Premier said he was “optimistic” about the possibilities of an eventual peace between Israel and the Arabs. One of the reasons for his optimism, he explained, was the high cost of armaments. “It makes no sense to spend so much money,” he stated. He expressed the opinion that maybe some day both the United States and Russia will realize this, too, and will say, “Look, boys, it’s enough. We can’t waste so much money.”

Another reason, he said, was Nasser’s growing problem of raising his people’s standard of living. This problem, said Mr. Eshkol, will grow in the coming years as the Egyptian population increases, and “may lead to second thoughts” about spending so much on armaments. Mr. Eshkol added that he believes that there are in the Arab states, like in Israel, “young students, intelligentisia, professors” who already have second thoughts about this question. “I believe that a peace camp already exists” in the Arab countries, he said.


At the same time, Mr. Eshkol pointed to the fact that Egypt has more armaments than Israel, including some which Israel does not have, like missiles. He said that he discussed several issues with President Johnson, “including economics and security,” adding that he thought the 1963 statement by President Kennedy on Middle East aggression could be stronger and “stated in greater detail.”

The main subject of his discussions with the President, Mr. Eshkol said, was the desalination of water project. He said Israel already had a pilot plant in Eilat which supplied drinking water there but that the aim was to desalinate enough water for irrigation purposes. The results of research, he said, would be given to all nations.

Mr. Eshkol labeled as “sheer nonsense” the Arab charge that Israel is “expansionist.” What Israel is doing in the “intensification” of agricultural cultivation and the industrialization of the country, he said, does not require additional territory. He said Israel’s aim is to become a “cultural and medical center.” This has already been achieved to a certain extent, Mr. Eshkol indicated, pointing to the Israeli version of the “Peace Corps” which gives technical assistance to “several dozen” Asian and African countries. He was interviewed by television commentator Howard K. Smith on WABC-TV station.


Speaking at a dinner given in his honor last night here by the board of governors of the Israel Bond Organization, the Israel Prime Minister declared that Israel’s development depended on its ability to use cheap nuclear power for industry. He cited the industrialization of the country and the settlement of the Negev and central Galilee as key factors in the solution of these problems.

Mr. Eshkol recalled that the Israel bond program was initiated during the difficult period 13 years ago when the three-year old nation was confronted with overwhelming economic and security problems. “We have come a long way together since the day in 1951 when David Ben-Gurion launched the Israel bond drive,” he observed, adding, “It was a daring and bold step, even for Ben-Gurion.”

The Premier stressed Israel’s efforts “to harvest the positive fruits of this atomic age.” He reported that in 1963, industrial production totaled about $1,500,000,000. He added that irrigation of land in Southern Israel would enable Israel to double her current citrus exports in the next decade. These exports, are now approaching $100 million a year.

Abraham Feinberg, president of the Israel Bond Organization, paid tribute to Prime Minister Eshkol as the “architect of Israel’s economic recovery.” Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, vice-president of the organization, reported that in the first five months of this year proceeds from the sale of Israel bonds were $29,724,500. If this pace is kept up, he said, the campaign will realize its goal of $85,000,000 by the end of the year.


The Premier was the guest of the executive of the American Section of the Jewish Agency for Israel at a private breakfast. Mrs. Rose L. Halprin, chairman of the American Section, presided. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, welcomed the Premier.

Mr. Eshkol also met with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee. He expressed to the delegation his appreciation of the organization’s efforts “to faster closer spiritual and cultural bonds” between the Jews of Israel and those of the United States. He reiterated Israel’s “desire to cooperate with all Jewish groups and organizations throughout the world seeking to maintain and strengthen Jewish life.”

Mr. Eshkol told a meeting of the American Zionist Council Friday morning that there was a growing interest among Israeli youth in Jewish life in other countries and “an increasing desire to ensure that the links which unite this generation of Jews throughout the world in affection, joint effort and common spiritual destiny, should remain close and intense in the future.”

He said he was proud that Israel was being increasingly used by Jewish communities abroad as a spiritual resource for their own educational growth. “This, he said, “is reflected in the growing number of rabbis, teachers and students who come to study in Israel for varying periods.”


Yesterday, Mr. Eshkol attended Sabbath services at Shearith Israel, the famed Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue and the oldest existing Jewish house of worship in the United States.

In order to be within walking distance of the Orthodox synagogue, Premier and Mrs Eshkol stayed at the home of Israel Consul General Katriel Katz, which is two blocks from the synagogue. Premier Eshkol was called upon to recite the traditional aliyah blessing over the reading of the Torah while Mrs. Eshkol sat in the ladies’ gallery during the services.

In a brief address during a kiddush reception following the services, Mr. Eshkol mourned the fact that great numbers of the Jewish people who perished in the Nazi holocaust did not live to see the rebuilding of the Jewish state. Alluding to the situation of Soviet Jewry, the Premier also noted that even today there were millions of Jews cut off from the mainstream of Jewish life.

The Israel Prime Minister was also the guest of the Overseas Press Club during his stay here. At a luncheon given in his honor he told the members of the Club that Egypt is receiving immense quantities of arms and military equipment, of very high quality and on very easy terms, from Communist countries. This, he explained, compels Israel to prepare for self-defense.

During the weekend, Mrs. Eshkol was guest of honor at a tea at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel given by Mrs. Katriel Katz, wife of Israel’s Consul General. She was also given a luncheon at the United Nations by Mrs. Michael’s. Comay, wife of Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. Mr. Eshkol was presented by Mayor Robert Wagner the city’s highest award, the Gold Medal of Honor, at a reception given to him by the Mayor at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, attended by more than 1,500 invited guests.

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