PARIS (Apr. 23)
The officially cool relations between Israel and France were reflected in the failure today of the Israel Embassy to hold its traditional Independence Day reception for high ranking French Government officials, an event that has been a diplomatic highlight here since the State of Israel was established.
No official reason was given for absence of the event. But observers here said the Israel Embassy wished to avoid the necessity of inviting a number of official personalities who support President de Gaulle’s pro-Arab policies and his embargo on military spare parts and equipment to Israel. The Embassy also wished to avoid the embarrassment of non-attendance by invited officials. Instead, Ambassador Walter Eytan held an “open house” for members of the Israeli colony in the French capital and a number of friends, including former French ambassadors to Israel who presented their good wishes.
Meanwhile, it was learned today that special police protection has been assigned to Mr. Eytan following the receipt of a number of threatening letters. Police circles are not certain whether the letters originated with Arab nationalists or French neo-Nazis. But authorities have ordered the Ambassador’s car to be permanently accompanied by unmarked police vehicles carrying two armed detectives. A special guard has been added to the uniformed constables in front of the Embassy and Consulate buildings and near the Ambassador’s residence.
In London, an Israeli Cabinet Minister declared yesterday that “outside powers cannot have a (Middle East) agreement at our expense however noble their intentions.” Joseph Saphir, a leader of the Liberal Party faction and Minister-Without-Portfolio in the Government, spoke at the annual Mizrachi dinner marking Israel’s independence.