JERUSALEM (Jul. 27)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol declared today that more and more Arab countries are realizing that war is no solution for the Palestine conflict, and that there are “increasing cracks in the walls of Arab hostility” toward Israel. Addressing a press luncheon here, he said that peace in this region can be achieved only through direct Arab-Israel negotiations “in a spirit of mutual respect for each other’s existence and rights. “
Such negotiations, he declared, carried out in full recognition of the basis of existence of each of the states involved, could lead to peace, disarmament and mutual cooperation. The Prime Minister criticized Egypt’s President Nasser for wanting to discuss the problem of nuclear arms in the Middle East, which Mr. Eshkol termed “non-existent,” while persistently avoiding “discussion of the real burning issue, namely disarmament in the field of conventional weapons.”
In reply to a question, Mr. Eshkol said that the recent rapprochement between the Soviet Union and Syria has not worsened Moscow’s relations with Israel. “Many countries,” he stated, “have good relations both with the Arabs and Israel, and one does not exclude the other.” As for Israel’s reprisal air raid against Syria this month, Mr. Eshkol said that Moscow’s Ambassador to Israel has known for six months about “the provocations which we endured patiently.”
On another issue, Mr. Eshkol told the gathering that Israel will request associate membership in the European Common Market. “That,” he said, “would be the best solution for securing our basic economic interests.”
Regarding internal affairs, the Premier stressed the necessity for implementing an economic program calling for austerity and a wage freeze which are needed to make Israeli products more competitive in the world markets. He said that deferment of the payment of cost-of-living allowances and price stability are needed for the same reasons.
Mr. Eshkol reiterated the Government’s intentions to reduce manpower, thus cutting the budget and reducing expenditures. He appealed to all Israeli enterprises to follow the Government’s initiatives and to achieve greater efficiency at lower costs.