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Israel Maintains Official Silence on Gunboats and Weighs Political Effects

Israel continued today to maintain strict official silence over the affair of the five gunboats that defied the French arms embargo and are reportedly on their way to Israel. But measures that might be taken by France to demonstrate its displeasure were reportedly the subject of day-long consultations at the Israel Foreign Ministry.

Political sources here said Israel was considering the possibility that France would recall Ambassador Francis Hure. Israelis were also prepared for a more militantly anti-Israel stand by France both in the international arena and in bilateral relations with Israel. France is one of the four Big Powers — along with the United States, Soviet Russia and Britain — currently engaged in discussions of a settlement of the Middle East conflict.

The Israeli Embassy in Paris has reportedly requested another meeting with the French Foreign Ministry and the Government here is said to be awaiting a report on its outcome. Israel’s Ambassador to France, Walter Eytan, is home on leave. The Israeli charge d’affaires in Paris, Eytan Ron, was reportedly rebuked yesterday by French Foreign Minister Maurice Schumann over the gunboat affair. Mr. Ron was said to have disavowed all knowledge of the gunboats.

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