ROME (Jun. 17)
Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban called on the West today for a “climate of criticism” of Soviet Russia’s policies and military presence in the Middle East. He warned that if Western nations were “apathetic, passive, indulgent” toward Soviet policies, Moscow would only become bolder. “I do not believe the Soviet Union would be indifferent to the expression of firm and clear criticism of this policy,” he said. Mr. Eban spoke at a press conference at the Israeli Embassy here following two days of talks with Italian Foreign Minister Aldo Moro and other high Italian officials. He Named the Soviet Union for the June, 1967 Arab-Israeli war which he said might not have occurred were it not for the Soviet role in the Mideast conflict. He said that since 1967, the Russians have prevented the establishment of peace through reckless arming of the Arabs and now threaten to enlarge the conflict through the presence of its own personnel in Egypt. Mr. Eban said the Soviet presence did not give Israel the feeling that its existence was threatened. He warned however that his country would do everything it could to defend its cease-fire lines with Egypt.
Questioned about Israel’s relations with France, the Foreign Minister said that in spite of the experience of the past three years his government has never stopped hoping that relations would improve. He said he thought there was a desire for an improvement on both sides. He noted France’s agreement to the European Common Market’s preferential trade treaty with Israel and recalled that French Foreign Minister Maurice Schuman hinted several times of a possible change in France’s arms embargo against Israel. Nothing in this respect has happened so far but it appears that the question is open and it will be discussed with the French Ambassador soon, Mr. Eban said. He excluded the possibility of Israeli negotiations with the Palestinian guerrillas because “they want to destroy Israel and massacre its inhabitants. Mr. Eban disclosed that Foreign Minister Moro has accepted an invitation to visit Israel but no date has been set. Mr. Moro declared last night that Israel’s welfare was a matter close to the heart of Italy and that he was convinced that the people and government of Israel have only peaceful intentions and want to live in peace and security with their neighbors. Mr. Moro spoke at a dinner in honor of Mr. Eban.