JERUSALEM (May. 30)
The Israel Cabinet categorically rejected today accusations leveled by the Soviet Union that Israel was planning to topple the Syrian regime in conspiracy with the United States and British governments. Official Government circles here had disclosed earlier today that the Soviet Government, in a note handed to Israel Ambassador in Moscow Katriel Katz, warned the Israeli Government against “interference in Syrian affairs.”
It is understood that the contents of the note, which was delivered to Ambassador Katz by a senior official of the Soviet Ministry for Foreign Affairs, was similar to the warning carried by the Tass News Agency and other Soviet radio and press media last Thursday which claimed that Israel, Britain, the United States and “certain imperialistic circles in Jordan” were plotting to overthrow Syria’s left wing government. The warning said that the USSR would not stand aloof from alleged Israeli “provocations” in the Near East, “a region located in direct proximity to the borders of the USSR.”
The Soviet charges were discussed in talks between Ambassador Katz and the Soviet Government and between the Israel Foreign Ministry and Dmitri Chuvakhin, the USSR Ambassador in Jerusalem. Foreign Minister Abba Eban said that it was the Syrians who have been concentrating their forces on Israel’s border and making aggressive statements — not the Israelis. It has been Syrian marauders who murdered two Israeli farmers inside Israeli territory only three weeks ago. Statements like those of the Soviet Union, he declared, only increase the tension in the area.
The Cabinet approved Foreign Minister Eban’s position which was also expressed this morning in Paris by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol who was enroute to a visit to Africa. Observers here today explained the Soviet move as a double-pronged effort to establish the claim that, if the Syrian regime remains in power, it would owe its existence to Moscow; if it falls, even due to internal reasons, the Soviet Government will be able to claim that it was the work of “imperialistic plotters.”