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Franco-israel Relations, Though at All-time Low, Are Not Being Written off

Indications were given here today that Franco-Israeli relations, though at an all-time low as a result of Gen. de Gaulle’s embargo and pro-Arab policies, were not being written off and are believed capable of improvement. One was a speech delivered by Foreign Minister Abba Eban at the cornerstone laying of “France House,” a student dormitory and French cultural center built with contributions from the French Society of Friends of the Hebrew University. The other was an announcement by the Prime Minister’s office that Israel has just ordered $10,000 worth of French-made fireworks to be used in its 21st anniversary Independence Day celebrations next May. The order was placed after Gen. de Gaulle announced his embargo on military equipment and spare parts to Israel. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s office said that fireworks from other countries had been tested but were not up to Israel’s safety standards.

The cornerstone ceremonies were attended by the French Ambassador, Francis Hure, Baron Guy de Rothschild, Prof. Jean Roche, rector of the Paris Sorbonne and members of a United Israel Appeal mission from France. Mr. Eban said, “With all her cultural richness, Israel is not in a position to forego what France can contribute in all fields.” He said Israel did not regret the investment it made in spreading French culture here. “Our feelings,” he went on, “are made up of both satisfaction and bitterness–this because of France’s recent blow, the blow of a country long considered friendly. How ever, the memory of years of friendship remains and the flags of Israel and France which fly together here may also be a symbol of what the future holds.”

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