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Pompidou’s Decision to Maintain Embargo on Mirages Disappoints Israelis

The Government and people of Israel are deeply disappointed over French President Georges Pompidou’s decision to maintain indefinitely former President Charles de Gaulle’s embargo on 50 Mirage jet fighter-bombers.

Political sources said M. Pompidou’s comments last week at his first press conference since becoming President indicated that Israel would not get the jets which it had long since paid for in full, and that the new regime would continue policies laid down by Gen. de Gaulle in order to foster Franco-Arab relations. The English-language Jerusalem Post commented in an editorial that M. Pompidou’s statement was designed to curry favor with the Arabs.

The political sources noted that M. Pompidou had stressed the deep traditional ties between France and the Arab states while making no reference to Israeli-French relations. They noted also that he had spoken of a curtailment of the Middle East arms race but did not mention the continuing massive flow of weapons to the Arab states.

The principal passage in President Pompidou’s statement was: “Is it possible to imagine a reappraisal of French policy? (It) could in any case only consist in a return to the so-called ‘selective’ embargo that existed before Jan. 3; and even this would naturally hinge on local developments and on the attitude of the parties concerned.” Israeli commandos on Jan. 3 raided Beirut Airport, after which Gen. de Gaulle decided to extend the 18-month-old embargo on the Mirages to all military equipment, including spare parts.

M. Pompidou indicated that the most he envisaged was a more liberal policy that would permit delivery of defense weapons and “weak” offensive weapons, as well as spare parts, to Israel.

The Arab world rejoiced over the decision. A Beirut newspaper carried the headline: “Long Live Pompidou.” But other papers complained that France may ship spare parts to Israel.

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