PARIS (Jan. 21)
Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban expressed the hope today that France would eventually “recover the virtue of impartiality” in its dealings with Middle East countries. In an interview published in the newspaper Le Monde, Mr. Eban said the French embargo deprived Israel of arms “while among the Arab states there exists a sort of ‘Common Market’ in arms.” The reference was to France’s new $400 million deal to provide Libya with 50 Mirage jets and other modern weapons, which it is widely believed, will find their way to Egypt and other Arab countries fighting Israel.
(Eban’s interview with Le Monde took place before the announcement Wednesday by French Minister Michel Debre that France will sell 100 military aircraft, including 80 Mirage jets, to Libya.)
Mr. Eban said “it is possible that in the short term France will get certain advantages, thanks to her present policy, but this will be at the expense of long term interests.” He said the French arms embargo is so one-sided as to be devoid of any international standing. Asked about Israel’s own arms industry, Mr. Eban said his country was striving for greater independence in arms production.