Eshkol Says Talks in Britain Were ‘fruitful and Interesting’

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol of Israel left London airport for home this morning. He described his talks here with British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Foreign Secretary George Brown as “fruitful and interesting” and said that Anglo-Israel relations remained friendly despite Britain’s renewal of its diplomatic ties with Egypt.

Mr. Eshkol and his party were seen off at the airport by A. R. Moore, head of the Foreign Office’s Eastern section, who represented the Government. Also on hand to bid the Israeli leader farewell were Ambassador Aharon Remez and senior members of the Israel Embassy staff, and leaders of Britain’s Jewish community.

Political circles here said today that Mr. Eshkol’s talks with Mr. Wilson and Mr. Brown were conducted “in a most cordial atmosphere.” Central to the whole discussion was the mission of the United Nations’ special representative to the Middle East, Ambassador Gunnar Jarring, in which the British place high hopes. Diplomatic observers here said that the Security Council’s adoption of the British sponsored Nov. 22, 1967 resolution establishing Mr. Jarring’s mission, was “undoubtedly the turning point in Anglo-Israel relations.”

SAYS ISRAEL WILL NOT TOLERATE CONTINUED SUEZ CANAL BAN ON ISRAELI SHIPPING

Mr. Eshkol held a brief press conference at the airport prior to his departure. Asked if he was optimistic about the re-opening of the Suez Canal, he replied that “for my part it could be re-opened now and remain open.” But he added, “a 20-year ban on Israeli shipping is long enough and we are not prepared to tolerate such a ban any longer.”

He said, in reply to questions, that the matter of British military supplies to Israel was not raised at his talks with Prime Minister Wilson. He refused to go into details of Israeli arms purchases in the United States, saying only that he had discussed the question with President Johnson who expressed the general principle that a limitation of arms supplies to all countries in the Middle East would contribute to peace in that area. Mr. Eshkol reiterated that Israel was not prepared to accept supervision of the holy places in return for guarantees of her frontiers. Concerning relations with the Soviet Union, he said he hoped they could be friendly, even though diplomatic relations between Israel and the USSR remain severed. Asked if he thought Britain would still exert influence in the Middle East now that she was about to withdraw her military presence from the area. Mr. Eshkol said that Foreign Secretary Brown was “optimistic about it.”

Some 1,500 leaders of British Jewry, assembled in the grand ballroom of Grosvenor House last night, gave Prime Minister Eshkol a standing ovation at a dinner held in his honor by the Joint Palestine Appeal.

The Israeli leader said, in the course of an address, that “we have not despaired of peace but we will not be satisfied with pious and obscure promises. Until we have peace we shall be alert.” He warned that continued acts of terrorism and sabotage against Israel “will not be tolerated indefinitely.” He also reiterated his call for large aliyah (immigration) from the Western nations to Israel and hailed “the partnership between Israel and the Diaspora.”

NEXT STORY