Eban Reiterates Israel’s Desire to Discuss Peace with Any Arab State in Region

Foreign Minister Abba Eban said in the Knesset (Parliament) today that he had “every reason to believe that the United States Government will give its blessings to any talks that might be held between Israel and the Arabs and would not try to intervene in the discussions.” Mr. Eban spoke in reply to a question by Shmuel Tamir of the Free Center faction. He reiterated Israel’s position that it was prepared to have talks with any Arab country willing to discuss a lasting peace and security in the region. “We have no preference list or grading of importance. Any country willing to talk Is welcome,” Mr. Eban said.

In reply to a question from Aryeh Avneri of the Haolam Hazeh faction, Mr. Eban said that Israel stands by its proposal for a regional meeting on the refugee problem to prepare a five-year plan of refugee aid. He said that Israel suggested that such a conference start even before a solution is reached on the other problems because of the humanitarian needs involved. He said that a solution of the refugee problem would involve reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in all areas that can absorb refugees.

The Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee decided by a 19-to-14 vote today to hold a general debate in the Knesset on Israeli aid to Biafra, the break-away province of Nigeria where tens of thousands of civilians are reportedly facing starvation. The vote rejected Mr. Eban’s proposal that debate on the subject be limited to the Foreign Affairs Committee. Replying to a number of questions, Mr. Eban said that Israel will take part in any humane action to help hungry Biafrans. Israel has sent some aid and more will be sent in the future, he said.

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