PARIS (Jan. 7)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban of Israel pledged in a recorded interview broadcast over Radio Luxembourg today that the five gunboats which Israel received last week from a Cherbourg shipbuilding yard in what the French considered a violation of their Middle East arms embargo, would not be armed. He praised Admiral Mordechai Limon. who arranged the departure of the five speedy gunboats as “a national hero” but he said that “we must honor our pledges.”
Israel has declared that the five gunboats would be used for civilian purposes, guarding and supplying off-shore oil prospecting rigs. The craft have been chartered to an Israeli firm engaged in offshore oil prospecting.
Mr. Eban told his interviewer that he thought it “quite probable” that the arms France is currently negotiating to sell to Libya would reach Egypt. He described the situation as that of France arming Israel’s enemies while keeping the embargo on arms to Israel. He declared that despite the feelings aroused by the “gunboat affair,” Israel and France would continue the dialogue between them.