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Israelis Say France is Morally Obliged to Release Mirage Jets Israel Paid for

Israelis expressed satisfaction today that the final installment on 50 Mirage-V jet fighter-bombers ordered from France two years ago was paid on April 15, the date due, But there was widespread bitterness over the continued French embargo on the planes, particularly in face of the deGaulle government’s deal to sell 54 Mirage aircraft to Iraq. The feeling here, echoed by the press, was that Israel discharged its legal obligations under the contract when it presented final payment — $20 million — to the Dassault Company, manufacturer of the Mirages. It is now up to France to fulfill the contract’s terms.

(The London Guardian reported from Paris today that “Tel Aviv is now free to take legal action for breach of contract” if the French refuse to deliver the planes. According to the paper, 18 of the supersonic aircraft, built to Israeli specifications, have been completed and an in storage at the Dassault plant at Istres, near Marseilles. “Thus far, the Israel Government has not said whether it intends to take legal action.” the Guardian said. The paper commented that pro-Israel elements with in the French administration hope the embargo will eventually be lifted, but the decision may be delayed until delivery of the Mirage Jets to Iraq begins in about 18 months.)

The evening newspaper, Maariv, said here today that “we are not yet despaired of the French, but chances for cancellation of the embargo appear very dim and all that Israel can do is make efforts to ensure a supply of planes from other sources.”

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