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Ben-gurion Says He Considers Issue with Dr. Goldmann As ‘closed’

May 28, 1962
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion declared today that he regards the issue over meetings between Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and American statesmen as “closed.”

Speaking at a meeting of the Ihud Olami, the world organization of Labor Zionists, the Prime Minister said that he “welcomed” Dr. Goldmann’s endorsement of the principle that only representatives of the Israel Government are entitled to handle State affairs, either internally or on the international level. He said that was the main issue of his letter on the subject to Moshe Sharett, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, and declared he now regards the issue as closed.

Dr. Goldmann, meanwhile, discussed the issue at a press conference here. “I cannot resist the impression that, what accounted for this procedure, was an intention to hurt me,” he said. “The simplest and most natural way would have been to cable me or telephone me, to find out what had happened, or to await my arrival.”

“Mr. Ben-Gurion’s letter to Mr. Sharett, said Dr. Goldmann, was only the last of a series of reactions to my activities on the part of the Foreign Ministry. In order to avoid further misunderstandings of this nature I would gladly be prepared to undertake not to raise in the future any questions regarding Israel relations with other governments in talks either with the American Government or the Government of any other country, and I shall feel relieved if, from now on, no such requests were made on me by Ministers or other Israeli representatives.”


Dr. Goldmann emphasized, however, that “regarding my general contacts with Governments and diplomats, I certainly propose to continue to maintain them, primarily as president of the World Jewish Congress and chairman of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany–in some cases also on the basis of purely personal connections and friendships.”

At the outset of his statement, Dr. Goldmann expressed full agreement with the principle that the Israel Government alone is entitled to negotiate with governments about matters concerning Israel. “I never claimed this right,” he said, “nor have I ever actually intervened except when asked.”

He said that his meeting with Dr. Joseph E. Johnson, special Middle East Arab refugee emissary for the Palestine Conciliation Commission, had taken place on the initiative of Rabbi Irving Miller, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. At lunch, Dr. Goldmann said, he then explained to Dr. Johnson Israel’s position with regard to the Arab refugee problem.

With regard to a meeting he had with Phillips Talbot, Undersecretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Dr. Goldmann said he had told a member of the Israeli Embassy at Washington about the meeting in advance, asking the latter whether he might offer “some suggestions for my talk.”

“I was informed by this member of the Embassy,” he continued, “that, among other matters Israel was discussing with the United States, there was a certain problem in the solution of which Israel was anxious to enlist the support of the U.S. Government. In this context, the Embassy official indicated there were certain steps which would be desirable. So, when Mr. Talbot referred to this issue, I put forward the idea to which the Embassy official had referred. I made it clear I was not speaking for the Israel Government.

“Mr. Talbot promised to consider the point, and I informed the Israel Embassy accordingly. I naturally assumed that, if a high Embassy official makes a suggestion, it accords with the desires of his Government,” Dr. Goldmann stated.

Dr. Goldmann expressed resentment “that the Premier or Foreign Minister, without being in possession of all the details,” brought this matter to the attention of the Cabinet and that the Prime Minister, with the Cabinet’s approval, addressed a formal letter to the Jewish Agency executive chairman inquiring “whether I had been authorized by the executive to raise this particular matter with the United States Government.”

Dr. Goldmann told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that he does not intend to pursue the issue between him and Mr. Ben-Gurion any further than the statement which he made at the press conference. No meeting between Dr. Goldmann and the Premier has been fixed, but it was believed here today that such a meeting will take place during this week.

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