JERUSALEM (Jan. 13)
The address delivered last night by Premier Levi Eshkol in the Knesset, in introducing his new Cabinet, was considered here today as an attempt to feel out again the interest of the Soviet Government on the possibility of improved relations with Israel. It was also considered as a move seeking a reduction of the Soviet support to the Arab countries.
The Premier’s remarks on the need to prevent recurrence of a tragedy like the Nazi holocaust was viewed as clearly implying Israel’s concern over spreading rearmament, particularly in reference to West Germany’s insistence on sharing in Europe’s nuclear defenses. It was noted that it was not secret that the Soviet Union attached considerable weight to Israel’s views on this issue. The fact that Israel shares Soviet concern over West German access to nuclear weapons control may be seen in Moscow as an important factor for Soviet interests, it is believed in competent circles here.
Another point of interest in the Premier’s speech was his praise for the India-Pakistan agreement, negotiated in Tashkent with the aid of Soviet Premier Kosygin, renouncing the use of force in settlement of disputes between the two countries. Competent observers said that the Premier’s statement on the Tashkent agreement might be part of the same effort to improve relations with the Soviet Union. They added however, that the statement also could be viewed as a hint to the Soviet Union to try to achieve a similar agreement on renunciation of force by the Arab countries and Israel.
Improvement of Soviet ties is for the Premier not only a foreign policy goal but also a domestic issue. The participation of the leftist Mapam, as well as that of Achdut Avoda, which is leftist to a lesser degree, necessitates that the Premier make an effort in that direction.
Former Foreign Minister Golda Meir, meanwhile, began handing over the affairs of her ministry to her successor, Abba Eban. At a farewell reception with the ministry staff, today, Mrs. Meir said she wished the new Foreign Minister would be the one to sign peace treaties with the Arab states.