Eshkol Calls on Major Powers to Safeguard Peace in Middle East
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Eshkol Calls on Major Powers to Safeguard Peace in Middle East

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A call to the major world powers to safeguard peace in the Middle East was issued here today by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in his “state of the nation” address at the opening meeting of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, which reconvened for the winter session.

It was the first major speech delivered by Mr. Eshkol before the Parliament since he became Premier. He stressed both Israel’s desire for peace and its readiness for defense. He also announced the abolition for Arabs in Israel of major restrictions of military rule in certain areas of the country.

There are many indications, he said, that Israel’s “genuine de sire for peace” and its striving to achieve peace are “making a growing impression upon the world’s consciousness.” At the same time, however, he warned of Israel’s determination to strengthen its military deterrent “in the face of persisting Arab threats.”

“While developing our defensive preparedness,” he stated, “we shall not exempt from their international responsibilities other peace-loving states that are in a position to join various ways toward safe guarding peace in our area.” The responsibility of the major powers, he said, “is particularly heavy, since it is they who could best wield a deterrent influence.”

Emphasizing the fact that Egypt was being supplied by destructive armaments, the Israeli leader said: “The obstacle would be removed from the highway to peace, if the German and other scientists will cease strengthening the juggernaut of aggression being built in Egypt. Our Government,” he asserted, “will continue to act against aid given by German scientists and technicians to Egyptian plans for destroying Israel. We also expect the Federal Government of Germany to submit to the Bundestag (West Germany’s lower house of Parliament) a law to prevent such activity.”

“The easing of world tensions as a result of the tripower nuclear test ban pact,” said Mr. Eshkol, “has raised hope. The more world tensions are relaxed the more difficult will our enemies find it to keep the general thaw from penetrating to the Middle East. But it is precisely in our region that the glaring contrast between hopes for peace and the reality of hostility is most apparent, as the Arab governments persist in threatening Israel’s very existence.”


The Prime Minister informed the Knesset of wide measures being undertaken to improve relations with the Arab and Druse minorities in Israel. He announced a long list of such measures, including village development projects in the Arab-populated areas, further improvements in educational facilities, and establishment of a special fund for higher Arab education.

He then announced the abolition of major, military government restrictions in certain areas, except for a small number of Arab villages lying on the very borders of neighboring Arab states. In all other areas, he said, Arabs will no longer have to obtain personal travel permits. He voiced his regret that “incitement and hostility by the Arab countries compel us to keep a close watch on areas that are particularly sensitive from the viewpoint of security.”

Mr. Eshkol outlined the Government’s plan for expansion of educational opportunities for all Israelis, telling Parliament that equality of educational opportunity is “the highroad to true integration of our communities and toward the elimination of inequalities between citizens of various origins.”

Turning to economic affairs, Mr. Eshkol expressed disappointment over the results achieved thus far in Israel’s negotiations for a link with the European Common Market. Israel, he said, has been looking forward “with growing and justified anticipation toward speedy progress in meeting our demands” on the European Economic Community. The Euromart, he said, “bears a great moral responsibility toward Israel.”

On the domestic, economic front, he reported, the last year has been one of the most stable periods in Israel’s history. While prices remained stable, he noted, production increased rapidly, a high level of economic activity and employment has been maintained. and an improvement has taken place in the balance of payments which will probably result in reducing the trade deficit by $80,000,000.


The Premier discussed the project for expanding development in the Galilee area, and referred to the current immigration to Israel. He said there was an increased influx of Jewish immigrants from the free world, especially from South America. “There is reason to believe that the rate of immigration from many countries will continue and will be considerable during the coming year,” he stressed.

Voicing appreciation for world Jewry’s moral and material support of immigration and absorption, he said, however, that “to our regret, its contribution in the last years has not matched the enormous needs.” He appealed to world Jewry overseas to recognize the “urgency” of the immigration and absorption problem, and “to take appropriate action.”

Without mentioning the Soviet Union by name, Mr. Eshkol told the Knesset that Israel will speak up at the United Nations on the status of the Jews in the USSR. “The Israeli delegation at the United Nations,” he declared, “will have the opportunity of expressing its views, the aspirations of Israeli citizens and of the entire Jewish people regarding the situation of Jews in certain countries where they are deprived of the right to express their adherence to Jewish values and to enjoy contact with Jews in the rest of the world.”

Finally, Mr. Eshkol came to one issue that has disturbed Israel recently–the demonstrations by Sabbath observers and their opponents. He criticized sharply “the use of violence that leads to violence,” declaring that both secularists and the ultra-zealous “are wrong.” In matters of conscience and religion, he said, Israeli society “is founded on a pact of mutual tolerance which found expression in our Proclamation of Independence, which guaranteed that every man shall live according to his conscience in his own house, in his homeland. The public realm,” he asserted, “will be protected by the Government.”

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