De Gaulle Assures Eshkol of French Support; Calls Israel an Ally
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De Gaulle Assures Eshkol of French Support; Calls Israel an Ally

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The Arab boycott against Israel, the long-dormant but irritating Egyptian blockade of the Suez Canal against shipping to and from Israel, and the attitude of certain. Western countries to Arab pressures and boycott, were among the principal topics discussed here between Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and French President Charles de Gaulle, it was revealed here today.

No official communique was issued after Mr. Eshkol’s meeting for more than an hour with General de Gaulle, on Tuesday, but leading newspapers of the French press disclosed the contents of the talk today. (A communique was issued late today. See Page 2.)

General de Gaulle had assured the Israeli Premier, according to “Combat” the liberal daily, that “France will not sacrifice Israel for the sake of her interests in the Arab world.” Constantly referring to Israel as “France’s friend and ally,” Gen. de Gaulle showed himself as in favor of the status quo in the Middle East. He told Mr. Eshkol that any change in the equilibrium in the region could provoke “a catastrophic chain reaction.” He expressed his belief that France “could exert its influence to attempt to bring about the amelioration of Arab-Israeli relations.”


In an interview today with Le Monde, one of the country’s leading newspapers, Mr. Eshkol revealed that the two statesmen also discussed Franco-Israeli scientific cooperation in a project for extracting minerals and other riches from deep sea waters. Mr. Eshkol discussed the same project in a separate conference with Prime Minister Georges Pompidou.

This proposed undertaking, it was emphasized in most authoritative sources, is entirely different from, but complementary with, the recent agreement signed between Israel and the United States. It was stressed that there is no conflict whatever between the U. S. Israel undertaking for desalination of sea water and the proposal for French and Israeli cooperation aimed at extracting not only minerals, but also energy and foods as well from sea water.

So far advanced was this project said to be, that a number of Israeli experts are expected to arrive in France soon to advance the proposal. Not only the President, but the Prime Minister and Ministry of Defense here were reportedly enthusiastic about the plan.

Israel’s status in official French circles was further underscored here yesterday when Mr. Eshkol met with Jacques Chaban Delmas, president of the National Assembly, and Lucien Neuwirth, chief administrative officer of the French Parliament. The latter met with Mr. Eshkol under the auspices of the Franco-Israeli Parliamentary Committee, which is headed by Parliament’s vice-president, Raymond Schmittlin.


Both M. Neuwirth and M. Schmittlin toasted Israel’s Premier warmly, the latter assuring Mr. Eshkol: “If certain unpleasant winds blow toward Israel from the desert, other, friendlier winds reach you from across the Mediterranean, which forms a bridge between us.” The allusion was understood clearly to be a pledge of French aid in case of an Arab attack against Israel.

Responding to those toasts, Mr. Eshkol declared that the French Parliament was “the heart of hearts” of Franco-Israeli friendship. He restated Israel’s determination to continue her close ties with the French Republic, declaring: “Our foreign policy is based on this premise.”

Mr. Eshkol also met with leaders of the French Jewish community yesterday, and held a special press conference for the Jewish press in this country. The session with the French-Jewish leaders was held behind closed doors with not even the names of the focal participants being announced, at their request. Mr. Eshkol told the Jewish press later that he had criticized the lack of interest in Hebrew study among Jews in France. Mr. Eshkol noted that, out of 150 students taking Hebrew courses in French universities, not more that 10 per cent are Jews.

Appealing to the Jewish press here to help awaken Jewish consciousness in this country, Mr. Eshkol pledged the help of the Israel Government, the Jewish Agency and other bodies dealing with Jewry outside Israel to aid such Jewish consciousness development in France. Today, Mr. Eshkol placed a wreath on the monument to the “Unknown Jewish Martyr” in the French capital, visited the local Jewish community, and met with various Jewish delegations, including one representing the many thousands of Jewish refugees from Algeria.

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