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Sirens Throughout Israel Announce Start of Independence Celebrations

Sirens sounded throughout Israel tonight to mark the opening of the celebration of the nation’s 17th anniversary. In accordance with established custom, the observance of the anniversary began immediately after completion of Israel’s observance of Memorial Day today for those who died in Israel’s War of Independence.

As Israelis swung into celebration of the anniversary, Tel Aviv became an organized "city of Joy" with entertainment centers, dance squares and song groups, all colorfully decorated. Haifa had its traditional dancing parades on its main streets. The number of private celebrations increased again this year. Local celebrations were marred by the death of Transport Minister Israel Bar-Yehuda, who was buried at Yagur Kibbutz near Haifa.

President Zalman Shazar and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol today issued formal Independence Day proclamations in which the following three points were emphasized: 1. Peace with the Arabs and in the entire world; 2. Remembrance of the victims of the Nazi Helocaust; 3. Hope that the Jews in the Soviet Union might be enabled to emigrate to Israel.

The two Israeli statesmen hailed the achievements recorded in the country’s first 17 years, and looked forward to still greater progress in the years ahead. President Shazar took particular note of the call for Arab-Israeli rapprochement voiced recently by President Habib Bourguiba, of Tunisia. Without mentioning Mr. Bourguiba, President Snazar, after hailing the fact that Israel has broken "through the walls of imposed isolation," through diplomatic and commercial contacts with many nations, stated.

"Yet the blind hatred and dire threats of our neighbors have not weakened, and world public opinion still does not fully understand the dangers implicit in them. But even this blank wall has now been slightly breached, testifying to growing awareness in the And world that the differences between us should not be arbitrated by the sword but by direct negotiations based on mutual respect between state and state."

PRESIDENT SHAZAR EXTENDS PEACE OFFER TO ARAB NATIONS

"We have always believed and we still believe," the Israel President continued, "that the State of Israel and the Arab states can, should and will reach great heights in their development if only they cultivate their particular abilities and aid each other in applying the magnificent achievements of modern science and technology to the problems of the region, for its greater happiness and that of the world at large. Our hand is extended, as it has always been, in a gesture of peace and cooperation."

In the meantime, however, the President stressed, "let us now faithfully to watch over and defend the fortress of our freedom in unity and mutual tolerance and dedicated people hood."

Premier Eshkol also emphasized Israel’s faith in its deterrent force in his Independence Day message. He linked the State’s defensive power with its determination to protect its frontiers. As Israel reaches the end of its second decade, he stated, "it will be our duty, first and foremost, to ensure the security of the State, the well-being of its inhabitants, the integrity of its frontiers and waters, the protection of its statement among the nations.

"By virtue of the self-defensive strength of the State, its economic and spiritual resources, with the aid of the mighty partnership with the people of Israel everywhere, and with friendly countries in all parts of the world, we shall guarantee the continuing realization of the vision of the ingathering of the exiles, the homecoming of brethren and the development of the land," the Premier stated.

After calling upon Jews all over the world to "identify themselves in actuality" with Israel through immigration, the use of the Hebrew language and other cultural and social ties, Mr. Eshkol declared: "Chief among our thoughts of this day of Independence will be the great Jewish community in the Soviet Union. Its severance from the body of Jewry and from the current of its national creativity rends the hearts of every one of us. We shall ask and hope that the Soviet Union will make it possible for the masses of the House of Israel within its bounds to join in the up building of the future of the Jewish people in its Homeland and to live full Jewish lives in nearest touch with all the other congregations of Israel.

"Our covenant with the entire Jewish people is today, as it always has been, the very basis and foundation of our reconstruction," Mr. Eshkol concluded. "Let us pray that the coming years shall be years of strengthening of that covenant, years of its supreme and complete expression–mass Aliya to Israel."

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