Eshkol Says Mideast is Nearer to Peace Than at Any Time Since June War

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said at a press conference here today that he does not regard United Nations Ambassador Gunnar Jarring’s mission as having brought peace nearer but that he believes, in general, that “we are probably nearer peace now than we have been at any time since the Six-Day War.” The prime minister chided U.N. Secretary-General U Thant who is held responsible by many here for encouraging Jordan to bring its complaint against Israel’s Independence Day parade in Jerusalem before the Security Council. Mr. Eshkol said the Secretary-General should not be surprised to learn that his image in Israel is now “a little tarnished.”

Mr. Eshkol said there was no pressure whatsoever being brought to bear on Israel by the United States, adding that “of course, we cannot see eye to eye on every issue.” Referring apparently to the Phantom jet, the most modern American supersonic plane, the prime minister said he believed that Israel will get the aircraft requested from the United States. As to the slower Skyhawks, which the United States is supplying, Mr. Eshkol said he would have preferred to receive Israel’s entire order in one shipment or at least in larger monthly deliveries. But, he said, he understood that the U.S. Air Force is also pressing for deliveries.

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