WASHINGTON (Mar. 5)
President Johnson and Israel’s new Ambassador to the United States, Maj. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, exchanged warm, though formal, messages of greeting today as Gen. Rabin appeared at the White House to present his credentials to the President. Mr. Johnson said the United States was “deeply concerned at the continuing tension and repeated conflicts between Israel and its neighbors” and agreed with Ambassador Rabin that “there is, for the first time in two decades, a realistic opportunity for the peaceful settlement the people of Israel and other lands in the Near East so supremely deserve” and “that opportunity must not be lost.”
The exchange of messages was in writing. Owing to the President’s heavy schedule, he did not meet privately with Ambassador Rabin but received him jointly with the newly-arrived envoys of four other nations who presented their credentials today. A White House spokesman said the meeting was a formality and no matters of substance were discussed. Ambassador Rabin drove in a special limousine sent by the White House, flying U.S. and Israel flags. He was accompanied by a police motorcycle escort. In his message to the President, he said:
“The people of Israel know and appreciate your personal interest in the welfare of their country. They are also mindful of the effort and sacrifice which your country is devoting to the promotion of international peace, founded on the equal rights of all nations, great and small, to a life of security, freedom and independence.”
Noting that early 20 years have passed since the first Israeli Ambassador presented his credentials to the President of the United States, Ambassador Rabin said “these have been years of constant friendship, understanding and mutual respect for Israel. This relationship has been a source of great encouragement in her struggle for freedom, security and peace. It is also an hour of opportunity for the peoples of our historic region to end the scourge of war and inaugurate an era of peace and responsibility. Israel will not be found wanting in readiness to advance this cherished goal.”
President Johnson’s message stated in part: “In this the 20th year of Israel’s independence it is timely that we review the cordial relations and progressively stronger ties which bind our two countries together. With our own history in mind, we in the United States have watched with comprehension and sympathy as Israel has accommodated within its borders a population from many lands and constructed for them, through the application of science and unremitting effort, a productive and prospering community. We have admired the generosity and skill with which Israel has contributed to the development of other nations.”
The other ambassadors who presented their credentials at the same time as Ambassador Rabin were those of Somalia, India, Nigeria and Panama. President Johnson briefly greeted each separately and permitted photographers and television to record the exchange of credentials.