Eshkol Opens $11 Million Jet Engine Plant Which Stems from De Gaulle’s 1967 Embargo

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol cut a ribbon yesterday ceremonially opening an $11 million jet aircraft engine plant that is an outgrowth of President Charles de Gaulle’s 1967 embargo on shipment of Mirage V fighter-bombers to Israel.

Beth Shemesh Engines, Ltd., at Beth Shemesh, near Jerusalem, is owned jointly by the Israel Government and Joseph Schidlowsky, a French industrialist who heads the Turbomeca jet engine company in France. Initially it will produce spare parts for small jet engines made by Turbomeca. It is expected to be turning out whole jet engines within two or three years. The opening of the plant, largest of its kind in Israel, took on added significance from the embargo on military equipment and spare parts to Israel imposed by Gen. de Gaulle of France almost two weeks ago. The widespread opposition to that act among Frenchmen was manifested by the fact that M. Schidlowsky was accompanied on his trip to Israel to inaugurate the new plant by leaders of France’s aircraft industry, among them former ministers in previous French Governments. The dedication ceremonies were attended by two senior officials of the French Embassy but Ambassador Bertrand de la Sabliere was absent.

Prime Minister Eshkol omitted reference to the embargo or the international situation generally in his speech. He extended warm thanks to Mr. Schidlowsky who invested half the cost of building the plant and owns a 51 percent interest in it. He said the occasion was an important one for Israel’s industrial development and expressed the hope that the factory’s products will be exported all over the world “to serve as good ambassadors for us and build a reputation for engines made in Israel.”

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