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Eban Tells Knesset Peace is Not Essential for Israel’s Survival

March 24, 1966
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In his first major policy speech as Foreign Minister, Abba Eban told Parliament today that peace was desired by Israel, and was desirable to all peoples, “but it is not an essential condition for our survival.”

Outlining Israel’s foreign policy on the occasion of the presentation of his Ministry’s budget, Mr. Eban delivered a 75-minute address covering every aspect of Israel’s relations with the world. Summarizing Israel’s policies and actions during the past year, the Foreign Minister did not mention South Viet Nam’s current efforts to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. He mentioned the area only in terms of an expression of anxiety and regrets for the bloodshed there.

In the initial debate after his address, former Premier David Ben-Gurion denounced Mr. Eban for his comments about Mr. Ben-Gurion in an interview with a Paris newspaper. The interview was the subject of an opposition effort to topple Premier Levi Eshkol’s Government on a non-confidence motion, which failed.

Mr. Ben-Gurion took exception to Mr. Eban’s characterization of Mr. Ben-Gurion’s followers as favoring an “extreme line” in defense matters. The former Premier said this could only be interpreted as a criticism of the Governments which he headed. In those Cabinets, he declared, not one of the Mapai Ministers had opposed reprisal raids against Jordan, Egypt and Syria, or the Sinai campaign in 1956. Mr. Eban, who served as Education Minister in one of those Cabinets, declared during Parliament’s debate on the non-confidence motion that his comments referred only to positions taken by Mr. Ben-Gurion and other Rafi members after their break with Mr. Eshkol,

(A Jewish Telegraphic Agency dispatch from London reported today that Mr. Ben-Gurion is scheduled to arrive there tomorrow for a brief visit, during which he will make formal appearances only twice. He will address a Joint Palestine Appeal dinner and speak to a group of Zionist youth at Poale Zion headquarters.)


In his policy address, Mr. Eban reiterated Israel’s stand for the status quo in Eastern Europe, a reference to the German refusal to accept as final the Oder-Neisse line under which much of East Prussia was ceded to Poland after World War II.

He stressed that Israel must maintain its deterrent capability. However, he also emphasized that explanations of the reason for that need must be a major goal of foreign policy, and that Israel must also listen to every Arab “stirring” in the direction of accepting Israel’s existence.

He said that, in recent months, Israel had given further study to the possibilities of closer relations with the Soviet Union in the light of the Soviet initiative by seeking settlement of territorial disputes on a peaceful basis. He referred specifically to the Soviet initiative in arranging for a meeting in Soviet Tashkent between India and Pakistan, at which a truce was reached in the fighting over Kashmir.

Mr. Ben-Gurion, in his statement, declared that Israel’s statement of willingness to extend the hand of peace to its Arab neighbors was established before Tashkent. He asserted that he himself, as Premier, gave the declaration its final form. He also said Israel must not give up the hope of coming to terms with Communist China.

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