JERUSALEM (Jun. 23)
Premier Levi Eshkol, reporting today to the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, on his visit to the United States, said that he “was profoundly impressed by the sincerity of President Johnson’s friendship for Israel” and described his talks with Johnson as “serious and practical.” The Prime Minister also expressed confidence in President Johnson’s devotion to maintaining peace in the Middle East and the protection of Israel’s territorial integrity.
“President Johnson’s aides took pains to convince us that they will prevent and frustrate any attempt at aggression against Israel and that this is not merely an expression of a wish but a firm political decision,” the Prime Minister reported to the Knesset. He stressed, however, that Israel will not waive the necessity of independent power to defend herself and deter the enemy. He also reported that he had asked Washington for active support for Israel’s efforts to remain capable of bearing the responsibility for the nation’s survival.
Mr. Eshkel revealed that he asked President Johnson to correct any military imbalance that might arise as a result of the flow of Soviet arms to Egypt. He said that despite the relatively moderate tone of Premier Khrushchev’s statements during his recent visit to Egypt. Nasser repeated threats of aggression against Israel in the presence of the Soviet leader; Eshkol also stressed the effect Khrushchev’s utterances had on the Egyptian mobs. He said that all of these factors could lead to a serious deterioration in the area’s situation.
The Prime Minister referred to the American-Israel agreement on joint de-salination research as likely to benefit other arid countries in addition to having “scientific, economic and political significance.” Regarding his contacts with the American Jewish community the Israeli leader reported that he came away from these meetings with “deep conviction about the need for strengthening a community of faith and the possibility of doing so.”
Referring to his forthcoming visit to France, Premier Eshkol said that he was looking forward to meeting President De Gaulle who he termed “a great man.” He said that Israel will not forget the assistance France extended her during the “days of trial.” He added that “our friendship with France is a cornerstone of our foreign policy.” Premier Eshkol will report to the Knesset following his visit to France at which time the Cabinet will propose that the foreign policy debate be held.