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Israeli Spokesman Sees Soviet Bombers in Egypt As ‘new Element of Concern’

A Foreign Ministry spokesman warned today that the presence of Soviet Tupolev heavy bombers in Egyptian skies, piloted by Russians, was a new element in the Middle East situation that should be viewed by the Western powers with as much concern as it is viewed by Israel. He referred to the reported “good-will” flight of 16 Russian jet bombers over Cairo yesterday which observers consider a morale-booster for the Egyptians and a demonstration by the Soviets that they can bring their airpower to bear in a local Middle East conflict if they wish to.

(In London today, the Manchester Guardian said that the Soviet air force visit to Egypt may be part of a “war of nerves designed to reinforce the diplomatic pressures which are being brought to bear on both Israel and the UAR to accept a compromise.” The paper said that the aircraft demonstrated also that facilities for Soviet air power were readily available in Egypt should the Russians decide to take the Arab side in any new Middle East conflict.

(The Daily Telegraph reported that military attaches in Cairo believe that the TU-16 bombers, armed with air-to-surface missiles, are the ones that Soviet Communist Party leader Brezhnev promised Egypt last October. The Times Cairo correspondent said that the TU-16 was no match for Israel’s Mirage fighters but could handle the Mystere fighter and could pose the threat of night bombing. “More important, perhaps, they represent an element of the offensive to the Arab world which somewhat unfairly looks to Cairo to provide this.” The Times said.)

Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan addressed the Cabinet yesterday on the current political and security situations. Mr. Eban said that he had informed the French Ambassador that Israel hoped to resume her traditional ties with France in the atmosphere of friendship that prevailed prior to President de Gaulle’s attack on Israel at his Nov. 27 press conference.

General Dayan reported that the latest act of sabotage–the blasting of the water reservoir at Almagor near the Syrian border, was the first instance of Syrian terrorists crossing the cease-fire line directly into Israel. Usually, he said, saboteurs from Syria entered via Jordanian territory.

Previously, Gen. Dayan had issued a stern warning to Jordan that if sabotage incidents continued along the Jordan River, the cease-fire line since the end of the June war, the Jordanian population also might not live in peace. Gen. Dayan said that Israel wanted to maintain peace along the cease-fire lines in the occupied territories, but that if unrest continued, it would be “unrest both ways.” He said that “there can be only peace or war. There is no intermediate course.”

Gen. Dayan said that within a year the Arabs would have the same number of tanks and planes as they had prior to the June war and that some of these “will be of a better type” than their pre-June equipment. He said a renewal of hostilities had been made “rather possible” by the speed of Arab rearmament by the Soviets, which, he said, had been faster than expected.

BRIG. HAIM BAR-LEV IS NAMED NEW CHIEF OF STAFF SUCCEEDING GEN, RABIN

The Cabinet announced that Brig. Haim Bar-Lev, 43, has been named Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, effective in January, 1968 and will be promoted in rank to Major General. He will succeed Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, who, reliable sources said, will be appointed Israel Ambassador to the United States.

The name of Gen. Bar-Lev, who is presently Deputy Chief of Staff, was formally submitted to the Cabinet by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan yesterday. He noted that the termination date of Gen. Rabin’s appointment and the choice of his successor were made by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol earlier this year when he still held the portfolio of Defense Minister. Gen. Dayan spoke with high praise of the qualifications of both generals Rabin and Bar-Lev.

General Bar-Lev, formerly Brotzlawski, was born in Austria in 1924, spent most of his childhood in Yugoslavia and came to Israel with his family in 1939 at the age of 15. He studied at the agricultural school at Mikveh Israel and later joined Palmach, the famed shock troops of Haganah, the Jewish defense force, prior to establishment of the State of Israel.

The young Bar-Lev rose rapidly through the ranks. Israel’s war for independence in 1948 found him a battalion commander in the Negev repulsing Egyptian attacks from Sinai. During the Sinai campaign of 1956 he commanded the armored brigade that routed the Egyptians at El Arish and Rafah. During last June’s Six-Day War. General Bar-Lev served as Deputy Chief of Staff. The general studied at military schools in Britain and France and at Columbia University in New York where he earned a master’s degree in business administration and economics. He is married and the father of a son and a daughter.

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