TEL AVIV (Jun. 16)
President Nixon arrived in Israel today amidst the tightest security arrangements in Israel’s history and received a warm welcome from Israel’s leaders and the cheers of crowds as his motorcade moved from Ben Gurion airport to Jerusalem where the President began talks with Premier Yitzhak Rabin and other government leaders.
Nixon was greeted at the airport by President Ephraim Katzir with the Hebrew blessing of welcome “Beruchim Habayim Beshem Hasholem.” (Blessed be you who come in the name of peace.) Nixon in turn expressed his conviction that what had seemed in 1967 as the impossible dream of peace in the Middle East could now be achieved through the cooperation of all the nations, in the region.
The President and his wife, Pat, emerged from their Boeing 707, to see a large sign along the airport terminal building: “Israel Welcomes the President of the United States of America.” Another sign, carried by a group of Americans working in Israel, said “Americans in Israel Welcome the Nixons.”
The Nixons were welcomed by President and Mrs. Katzir. Also greeting the Nixons were Premier Rabin and his wife. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Keating, and the Israeli Ambassador to the United states, Simcha Dinitz. The ceremonies included the playing by the Army band of the American and Israeli anthems, the firing of a 21-gun salute and Inspection by Nixon of a 72-man guard of honor of cadet pilots.
FIRST VISIT BY AN AMERICAN PRESIDENT
The two Presidents took note of the fact that the visit was the first by an American President to Israel, although Nixon had been here before as a private citizen. He said it was for him, “a very great moment to be standing here as the first President to be here, in Israel, and particularly so as our two countries have been Joined in friendship from the time of Israel’s birth.”
He said “the friendship we have for this nation, the respect and admiration for this people of this nation, their courage, their tenacity, their firmness against very great odds, is one that makes us proud to stand with Israel as we had in the past in times of trouble and now to work with Israel” in a cooperative effort for peace in this area.
Nixon noted that he was going to the Soviet Union and he said he was sure that Israelis “appreciate” that this trip is for “the purpose of peace for the whole world and particularly in this area, peace among the nations involved.” He said to achieve peace the U.S. was working with its “traditional friends from Israel as well as with other nations in the area who have indicated a similar desire” to work for peace, instead of war.
(Nixon came to Israel from Damascus where he and President Assad of Syria, yesterday announced resumption of diplomatic relations between the United States and Syria which had been broken off by Syria during the 1967 Six-Day War.)
Katzir, in welcoming Nixon, noted American “sympathy and support” for Israel and then stressed that Nixon himself had “demonstrated to a singular manner your amity and your constant readiness to come to our assistance. We shall never forget, Mr. President, that you stood with us in hours of grave perils as well as in days of opportunity and hope.” Katzir said that Nixon’s “presence here epitomizes the mission of peace in our area which the American Administration, under your guidance and leadership, is pursuing. As a people whose supreme goal is peace, we applaud your efforts in which we wholeheartedly participate.”
Nixon’s arrival was preceded by unprecedented security arrangements and intensive efforts to make certain that the Nixons received a welcome from the public to demonstrate Israel’s appreciation of his aid during and after the Yom Kippur War.
NIXON HALED IN SPECIAL CABINET STATEMENT
After the Cabinet meeting on Friday, the government issued a special statement hailing Nixon for “appreciation of and response to Israel’s tasks and needs. The friendship between Israel and the people and government of the U.S. reached an unparalleled degree” since Nixon has been in office. The statement noted the President’s aid during the Yom Kippur War and praised the U.S. stand against Arab terrorism.
Hundreds of policemen, plainclothes security officers and border police at the airport were segmented by American security officials. The airport buildings were closed to everyone except essential workers and security personnel. The roads used by the Nixon party from the airport to Jerusalem were closed to traffic early this morning. Many Jerusalem streets were closed off and bus transportation was at a minimum.
Nixon arrived in Jerusalem to be greeted by crowds waving U.S. and Israeli flags and shouting “Nixon, Nixon” The ceremony scheduled at the entrance of the city was cancelled for security reasons. But when he reached the King David Hotel, he entered on a red carpet where a selected crowd in, the lobby greeted him with applause. The applause was even louder when Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger followed him, inside. The King David, where the Nixon party is staying, was emptied of all guests, including members of a United Jewish Appeal mission. Israel was providing security outside the hotel and the United State was handling security inside.
Many groups of citizens who wanted to speak to Nixon were refused permission on grounds of security or Nixon’s tight schedule. Allon promised a group of former inmates of Soviet prisons that the government would raise the issue of Soviet Jewish prisoners of conscience with Nixon. Some 200 Israelis are fasting at the Western Wall in an appeal to Nixon to help Jews in the Soviet Union.
A group of American students at Hebrew University were denied permission to demonstrate for Nixon’s impeachment. They said they would meet in a Jerusalem park.